How TfL is making it safe for everyone to get back to school and work on public transport
- Credit: Archant
London’s Transport Commissioner explains why it is safe to go back on buses, Tubes and trains, whether you are returning to work, school or just out and about
As thousands of school children return to classrooms over the next week or so, I’d like to let you know about the steps we are taking to make this a success from a transport perspective.
For those who don’t know me, I’m Andy Byford, London’s new Transport Commissioner.
Like everyone, the last few months for me have been a step into the unknown but as the person in charge of Transport for London, I wanted to let you know about everything we are doing to make public transport across London as safe, clean, reliable and accessible as possible for everyone to use.
More of our customers are returning to public transport, with the Tube now seeing more than 30 per cent of the number of journeys and buses around 55 per cent compared to this time last year.
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At the height of the pandemic – this was as low as 5 per cent and 15pc respectively.
Since then, we have returned to near full service across our Tube, rail and bus networks and our staff are working hard to reopen the last few remaining Tube stations that were closed at the start of the pandemic.
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We have been working hard to make the network cleaner than ever with an enhanced and frequent cleaning regime using hospital-grade cleaning substances that kill viruses and bacteria on contact.
More than 1,000 hand sanitiser points are available for use across our stations and our trains are cleaned with an anti-viral spray that provides long lasting protection.
The vast majority of customers are complying with the mandatory requirement to wear a face covering, unless they are exempt.
Our own enforcement teams are working closely with the police to ensure that the small minority who are not complying, do so.
I know many people have been worried about what will happen when offices reopen and schools return from September, and we have been preparing for this throughout the summer.
We would like as many school children to walk, cycle or even scoot to school wherever possible.
We are also making major changes to our bus network.
From this week, some existing regular buses have been rebranded as School Services and specifically prioritised for school travel. We have also added more than 230 extra buses to help bolster some of the busiest, lower frequency routes that are used by large numbers of schoolchildren.
These changes mean that, on some routes that serve schools, around half of buses are designated as a School Service and people not travelling to school should not use them during key travel times (weekdays between 07:30-09:30 and 14:30-16:30) and wait for the next regular bus service.
The ‘schools only’ bus plan is the only practical way to move all the children and keep them and regular customers socially distanced in line with guidelines.
I fully accept that this might be frustrating for some, but this change is supporting the return of children to school and supporting the wider recovery of London in a safe way.
To further ensure safe space on our services, we have been working with businesses and schools to ask them to, where possible, stagger working hours to ensure people can travel in the quiet times outside the peak.
This helps enable social distancing while also providing more room for those travelling to and from schools.
To help customers make an informed choice about when and how to travel, we have also improved the level of information about our services.
Our new TfL Go app, along with our website, provides easy access to when the quiet times are to travel. We are also providing a wealth of new facilities making it easier for people to walk, cycle or jog all or part of the commute through our Streetspace London work.
We hear you loud and clear that you want a clean, well-managed and reliable public transport service - and that is what we are providing to you. We are ready when you are.