Teachers, NHS staff and shop workers have continued to use trains and buses since the lockdown was called, 10 long weeks ago.
But after the Government’s attempt to nudge Londoners back to work in the city centre, life on public transport is starting to return to its old, crowded ways.
TfL is urging passengers to follow some essential tips to keep the inevitable risks of infection at bay.
Social distancing underground:
Passengers will be reminded to stand six steps apart on escalators, and only four people will be allowed to use a lift at a time.
“Dozens of stations have had new one-way and queuing systems to help control the flow of customers through the station, helping passengers to socially distance,” TfL has said.
You will also be frequently reminded to keep your social distance. There will be PA announcements, and posters at every Tube, tram, train and bus station.
More than 20,000 social distancing stickers are now in place at the busiest and largest stations. And more social distancing markers will be placed on the ground at bus stops and shelters across the capital.
Timing is everything:
Today (May 18) TfL updated its website to say that certain lines and stations should be avoided at peak times: 5.45am to 8:15am and 4pm to 5.30pm.
If you can’t get to work by walking or cycling, it will be worth discussing with your employer whether it’s possible to alter your working schedule so that you can travel outside of these times.
TfL has produced this list of the 20 busiest Tube stations: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/busiest-stations-restart.pdf
Bring your own face mask:
TfL has said “Everyone should wear a face covering when travelling”.
Social media has seen its fair share of videos showing how to make face masks. Now, Public Health England’s website even includes a guide on how to make your own face mask from a T-shirt.
The masks will not give you full protection from germs in the air. But they do prevent a significant amount of the germs that you exhale from getting into the air and affecting people around you. They do make a difference.
All front line TfL staff have been given face masks.
Services have increased
Soon after the lockdown, TfL found itself in a bind. Many of its staff were ill or having to self isolate. Services were reduced, and despite the lockdown, there were problems with congestion at peak times. This prompted the Government to demand that TfL put on more trains and buses.
Despite furloughing 25 per cent of all its staff, TfL has increased bus services back up to 85 per cent.
Three-quarters of tube services are back on. The Circle line has been reinstated and seven of the 37 stations that were closed have now reopened.
And 95 per cent of Croydon tram services have returned.
Free hand Sanitiser:
It will still be worth taking your own. But hand gel dispensers will be placed at all Tube, Overground, DLR and bus stations, as well as Victoria Coach Station, Woolwich Ferry, TfL River Piers and the Emirates Air Line.
Bus travel is still free
Buses are still opening from the middle doors only, and TfL’s website says “you don’t need to touch in”.