Watchdogs say passengers need post-lockdown assurances

Independent watchdog Transport Focus is calling for reassurances for passengers as three in five — 62% — say they wouldn’t feel comfortable using public transport unless social distancing is in place. Nearly two thirds said they expect social distancing to be in place on transport after lockdown restrictions are lifted.


Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are calling for governments and the transport industry to outline how they will reassure passengers that it will be safe as possible to travel by public transport.


One passenger said: “I will be nervous about travelling by train or bus as I don’t see how social distancing will work. I think it will be important that people are not crowded together for a long time.”


Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, says: “After months of being told not to travel, people will understandably be fearful about venturing out. The government must outline in its upcoming roadmap for easing lockdown what measures it will put in place to reassure people they can travel safely.”


While people in London are more likely to say they will look to cycle and walk more, rather than catch public transport, those outside London are more likely to say they will switch to driving. Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are calling for governments to ensure that active travel is encouraged, to prevent roads becoming more congested.


Emma Gibson, Director of London TravelWatch, says: “It is interesting to see that Londoners place more importance on people wearing facemasks as they move around the capital than people in other areas around the UK and that a higher percentage of Londoners in the survey would travel without social distancing or hand sanitiser available at stations or stops. Perhaps that is because they rely on public transport more than anyone else in the country.


“Like everyone, Londoners are concerned about travelling once restrictions are lifted in the capital, but a greater number of people intend to walk and cycle more often, compared to other parts of the country. Also bucking the trend, Londoners are less likely to say that they will drive more in order to avoid using public transport.”


Key survey findings:

  • 83% think hand sanitiser should be available on public transport vehicles, at stations, and at stops
  • 62% will not use public transport unless social distancing is in place
  • 51% would not be happy using public transport unless passengers are required to wear facemasks.


People aged 18-24 are most comfortable about returning to public transport (40%). People in Scotland (32%) and the West Midlands (29%) are the most likely, with those in north-west England least happy (19%).


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