‘Time to get back on board’

Metro (UK) - - NEWS - By DANIEL BINNS

TRAVEL bod­ies have pleaded with the gov­ern­ment to change its coro­n­avirus ad­vice on pub­lic trans­port, say­ing buses and trains can be just as safe as pubs and gyms.

Trans­port gi­ant FirstGroup and the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Passenger Trans­port (CPT), which rep­re­sents bus and coach firms, are among those call­ing for No.10 to make it clear com­muters will be safe as other lock­down mea­sures are eased.

But, de­spite the lat­est re­lax­ation of the rules, the De­part­ment for Trans­port is con­tin­u­ing to tell peo­ple to ‘stay off pub­lic trans­port if they can’ in mes­sages

on Twit­ter and in of­fi­cial guid­ance.

But FirstGroup chief ex­ec­u­tive Matthew Gre­gory said: ‘Face cov­er­ings are now manda­tory on pub­lic trans­port and I think, with that, we can change the mes­sage to the fact that pub­lic trans­porta­tion is safe.

‘We’ve en­hanced the clean­ing, we’ve en­hanced the dis­in­fec­tant, we’ve dealt with so­cial dis­tanc­ing prop­erly.’

That call was echoed by CPT chief ex­ec­u­tive Gra­ham Vi­dler, who told Metro: ‘The time has come to ditch the

“avoid pub­lic trans­port” mes­sage.

‘With op­er­a­tors now in­creas­ing ca­pac­ity, it’s time for the gov­ern­ment to en­cour­age peo­ple back on to our buses. The al­ter­na­tive is to back in­creased car use, greater con­ges­tion and poorer air qual­ity into our trans­port net­work.’

Passenger watch­dog Trans­port Fo­cus has writ­ten to trans­port sec­re­tary Grant Shapps urg­ing him to re­view the gov­ern­ment’s ‘un­clear mes­sages’.

And cul­ture sec­re­tary Oliver Dow­den told Metro at yes­ter­day’s coro­n­avirus brief­ing: ‘If you’re not able to use pri­vate trans­port then you can use pub­lic trans­port. It’s just a way of min­imis­ing the risk of trans­mis­sion. Of course, as the [in­fec­tion] num­bers con­tinue to fall, we keep all of th­ese things un­der re­view’.

But not all travel op­er­a­tors agree that a change in ad­vice is needed.

A spokesman for mayor of Lon­don Sadiq Khan, who over­sees Trans­port for Lon­don, said its net­work could only carry a ‘frac­tion’ of usual num­bers and that those who can work from home ‘should con­tinue to do so’, thus free­ing up space on pub­lic trans­port for ‘peo­ple who need to use it’.

LNP

Vow: Travel firms say com­muters, such as th­ese at Lon­don Vic­to­ria, will be safe

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