To cover or not to cover

19 July 2021

Sunny morning today at Wandsworth Common as I waited for the 07.42 to Clapham Junction. Maybe 20 people waiting, only me wearing a face covering although a few chin-strappers in evidence – I thought: “This is going to be interesting.”  

As the train pulled in, as if by magic, virtually everyone covered up. Went up to West Brompton where Southern, the Overground and the District Line meet. Same story here: calm, clean and most people wearing.   

Colleagues in Manchester and London had similar experiences, seeing the majority of fellow passengers in masks. My northern colleague tells me ‘one woman got on without a mask but when she saw everyone else was wearing one she put one on.’ The power of peer pressure. 

Much of the transport operator messaging hadn’t changed – fewer announcements maybe, but a lot of signs still in evidence. 

So maybe all those who would wear a covering or not, regardless of the rules, are continuing to do so. Just interesting to see how this lasts in the next few days. 

Check out Transport Focus’s David Sidebottom talking about this on BBC Breakfast from Manchester Piccadilly this morning. 

Meanwhile as big a change is the move away from trying to ensure social distancing in England. Of course, this has for some time often been difficult on busier public transport services, but now long-distance train companies are making more seats available too.  

This releases much needed summer capacity, but some trains can still appear ‘sold out’, with no tickets available to buy online, as operators aim to prevent crowding. This is something we need to watch to ensure passengers aren’t misled and end up paying more than they need to.  

For long-distance passengers it means it’s now more likely they’ll need to sit next to a stranger. For this reason it’s especially welcome to see good, robust messaging from some operators. 

And get in touch – tell me how it was for you. Tweet us @transportfocus or leave a comment here.  

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