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Commuters lose confidence in public transport

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Public transport has fallen out of favour with commuters due to concerns over the spread of Coronavirus.

Business campaign group London First found that 16% of commuters will avoid public transport for the foreseeable future, while 22% say they will work from home more regularly.

Around a quarter (24%) of Londoners plan to use the tube, while 21% say they will use buses – this is down from 36% and 32% respectively before the lockdown.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said: “Many Londoners will need reassurance before getting back on public transport.

“Among the measures that would help passengers feel more confident in the safety of the network are caps on numbers, increased cleaning and the use of face coverings. Employers will also need to be flexible about work times and take steps to provide safe working environments for those staff who do return to work.

“We need a clear package of measures and absolute clarity on who can travel and at what time if we are to get London back on its feet quickly.”

Cash-strapped Transport for London (TfL) has been given a £1.6 billion bailout from the Government, after warning it could have to cut services.

As a result, it is reintroducing fares on buses and the reinstating the congestion and ULEZ charging schemes, alongside increasing service levels on tubes and buses.

From June 22, drivers entering the capital will have to pay £15 rather than £11.50 per day including weekends – rather than just on weekdays as current rules stipulate. 

There is no single measure that would boost confidence in people returning to public transport, London First has found.

The survey reveals a range of measures will be needed to improve public confidence in the transport network: a third of respondents say increased deep cleaning (33%) is in their top three measures to improve confidence, whilst a third also said extensive contact tracing (33%) and mandatory face masks (33%). Caps on numbers using public transport at any one time (35%) and sanitiser available as standard (32%) would also help reassure passengers. Just over a quarter (27%) of Londoners also think there should be changes to office hours to offset traditional peak travel, which could reduce congestion and have an impact on air quality.

London First is calling for absolute clarity and consistency of message between central government, London government and Transport for London, to reduce the risk of over-crowding at peak times. This is particularly important on social distancing which presents some challenges for the capital’s transport network.

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