Face masks compulsory on public transport across England – day one
15 June 2020
This morning our director, David Sidebottom, took part in several interviews for radio stations across the country. From stations covering Devon to Lancashire and the Solent area to the Tees region we were quizzed about what today means for transport users in England with the mandatory wearing of face coverings on various form of public transport.
Across the interviews a few themes emerged from the questions posed. Will people be turned away from using transport if they don’t have a face covering? How will that be enforced? What does this mean for staff and passengers? Who will be exempt from wearing a covering? Should passengers approach fellow passengers who are not wearing a covering? All good questions that we know are also going through the minds of people using transport today. Perhaps many returning to work or the high street to shop for the first time in three months?
— Bibhash Dash (@bibhashdash) June 15, 2020
I’ve had to get the bus to work through all of this & they’ve only just started to implement social distancing on them ?
Now that everyone is starting to go back to work the buses are only taking 10 people…so I may never get to work again ??
— Emily-May ? (@emmyymayy) June 14, 2020
We know from our latest survey that 67 per cent of people felt face coverings should be a requirement on public transport. It was therefore encouraging to hear on David’s BBC Radio Cambridge interview that most, if not all, passengers arriving at Cambridge railway station this morning were wearing face coverings. It was reported that a passenger was approached not wearing a covering but quickly pulled a scarf over their face. This form of ‘softly, softly’ engagement and education between staff, agencies and passengers will be vital in the days and weeks ahead to make this work.
Looking at what people are saying on social media produces a mixed picture on bus, rail and tram across the country:
Very encouraging to see so many people wearing face coverings on the Tube today @TfL. Still some people without, so definitely a need for some gentle enforcement and hopefully it becomes the norm
— Darshan Patel ? (@DarshPatelHF) June 15, 2020
So you say from today everyone on public transport has to wear a a face mask of some kind yet the bus I’m on I’m the only one out of 10 people including the driver to wear a mask how does that work then ???
— Zak Hasnaoui (@hasnaoui_zak) June 15, 2020
It just seems a bit hypocritical that drivers are refusing people onto the bus (rightly so) for not wearing a mask and yet they aren’t wearing one themselves. Practice what your preach and all that …
— Lucie Rayner (@lucierayner) June 15, 2020
— Mark Hall ??? (@marksw10) June 15, 2020
Today is the first day of wearing a face mask on public transport. I was instructed as I entered the train station to put one on. Considering I have been using public transport all the way through #COVID19 why is it only now mandatory? Too little, too late #UKGovernment
— JK (@JonathanKing_2) June 15, 2020
I thought this morning would be tedious. Bus drivers having to patiently remind people they can’t get on without a face covering. Surprisingly not one person trying it on so far. All going very smoothly.
— Sarah Evans (@Sarahevansse) June 15, 2020
Ok, he obviously should have been wearing one as he kept putting it on if the conductor walked past
— Andrea (@wef54) June 15, 2020
— Stephen (@9stephen99) June 15, 2020
I’m the 5th person on the bus this morning and only the second to be wearing a face covering?? Also the bus driver isn’t even wearing one?
— Amy ??♀️ (@geordiegal97) June 15, 2020
Just got on a 201 @StagecoachGM bus in Denton going to Manchester City centre and the bus driver has already let 4 people come on without a face covering… ?
— Ben (@Ben_Mycroft) June 15, 2020
Transport Focus has long called for clarity of messaging and communications to build reassurance as we all start to return to public transport. Another theme emerging through this morning’s batch of interviews was the question of ‘what is an essential journey?’ given that Government advice is still to only travel if your trip is essential. With the re-opening today of many retail stores, is a trip into town to buy a pair of socks or shoes essential?
While you could argue that it may not be critically essential for the consumer, but perhaps a small but vital cog in the wheel helping to get our economy going again. Making more people feeling as safe, reassured and confident on public transport will have a huge part to play in helping the economy bounce back too.
If you’ve made a journey we want to hear about your experiences. Have you made a trip to the shops? Tell us how what means of transport you took to get to there. Or maybe you are a key worker, was your journey any busier or were people around you wearing face masks? Tweet us with your experience @TransportFocus.