Covid-19 passenger information – is it crystal clear?

08 June 2020

A week today, 15 June, sees further easing of lockdown restrictions in England – non-essential shops can reopen, and some pupils will start going into secondary schools – alongside the new requirement to cover your face on public transport. Ahead of that, London TravelWatch and Transport Focus is pressing transport operators to make sure information is crystal clear to those starting to travel again – possibly for the first time since mid-March.  We want people to have the information they need to travel with confidence – or to choose not to. In particular we looked at knowing what transport operators are doing to keep passengers safe and knowing what passengers need to do. We also took the opportunity to check on information about Covid-related season ticket refunds.

Last week we checked train company websites to see if the answer to various questions was crystal clear. You can see our questions below. We’ve been engaging with Transport for London, too. We shared the questions in advance and a number of companies used them to review their website and make improvements. One train company did this and scored itself 19 and a half out of 22, going on to explain what it was doing to close that gap! Other train companies seemed surprised that we didn’t think their websites were as clear as they did. This led to constructive engagement with several companies last week and many changes were made to make information crisp and unambiguous. Overall, a successful exercise – although it does underline the need for train operators to look at their websites with a more critical eye.

Of course this isn’t just about the railway. Many of the same questions will be in people’s minds whether they are looking to travel by bus, train or tram or stop at a motorway services. So, this week we’ll be looking at bus company and transport authority websites to see if they are crystal clear on key points. And after that, we will have a look at motorway services websites. The same principle will apply; making sure it’s easy to find the information that allows people to travel with confidence.

Finally, the changes a week today will inevitably result in more people travelling and, assuming further lockdown relaxation happens as planned, more will follow from 4 July.  Passenger numbers on some parts of London Underground and some trains, trams and buses are already at their social distancing safe maximum. Are we at the stage where messages need to be more honest that keeping two metres apart from everybody else will be impossible at times, but these are the things you should do to minimise the risk to you and others?


Questions for transport operators

Is it clear…

1.who may and may not travel by train?

2. what the advice is about covering your face

3. what the railway will do to maximise social distancing – at stations

4. what the railway will do to maximise social distancing – on trains

5. what passengers should do to maximise social distancing – at stations?

6. what passengers should do to maximise social distancing – on trains?

7. when is best to travel and when best to avoid? (that is, is least busy)

8. what happens if the train you want is full?

9whether there will be hand sanitiser at stations and on trains?

10a. whether reservations are mandatory, advised or not required?

10b. If mandatory, how if you have a flexible ticket you change your reservation at short notice?

11a. that Passenger Assist is still being provided?

11b. If so, how the service may be different from normal?

12. Is it clear whether cash is still accepted?

13. which ticket offices are open (with hours stated) and which are closed?

14. what timetable is being operated (for example, a Saturday service)?

15. what additional cleaning is being carried out?

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