‘Time to get back on board’
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’.
Vow: Travel firms say commuters, such as these at London Victoria, will be safe