TfL trials middle-door boarding

Transport for London is beginning trials this week of middle-door only boarding on buses operated from Abellio’s Walworth garage in south-east London. Two of the routes serve hospitals.


For several weeks, buses in many mainland European cities have operated with their front doors and platforms closed to protect drivers from the risk of being infected by coronavirus. Earlier this week it was reported that five London bus workers — believed to be drivers and controllers — have died with coronavirus.


TfL says it the trial is the latest in a number of measures aimed at protecting bus workers and the critical workers who need to travel. TfL has been working with trade union Unite and bus operators and has already actively discouraged passengers from sitting near the driver with signage and has recently added an extra layer of protection to the clear screen that separates the driver from customers to create a more complete barrier.


It says middle-door only boarding could ensure that critical workers can continue to rely on London’s buses to travel, while ensuring that drivers, who have no option to change seats or move in the bus, can maintain social distancing while working. The trial will assess how the change works in live operations and whether it causes any issues.


TfL says it has repeatedly reminded everyone that travel on public transport is only for critical workers making absolutely essential journeys, and has seen the number of people using buses plummet by around 85%. It is encouraging even more people to stop travelling to ensure that both these life-saving workers and London’s bus drivers can safely continue to be on the frontline of the coronavirus effort.


Claire Mann, director of bus operations at TfL, says: “London’s hard-working transport workers are making a heroic effort at the frontline of the fight against this pandemic, and it is only right we consider everything we can to protect them. We’ve already delivered many other enhanced safety measures and by trialling middle-door only boarding on buses we can gain the information we need to see if we can further improve safety on London’s buses. Most Londoners can do their bit to protect our bus colleagues and other critical workers by remembering: stay home, don’t travel, save lives.”

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