Keep helping passengers social distance says transport watchdog

08 January 2021

New analysis by Transport Focus confirms the ability to keep a safe distance from other passengers is the most important driver of feeling safe for rail and bus passengers.

With a return to strict lockdown measures and an instruction to stay at home, public transport will again focus on meeting the needs of people who still have to travel. Whether it’s for work, essential shopping or appointments many people will still be relying on public transport to get where they need to be. Despite all the uncertainty, it is important these passengers feel as safe as they can while they travel.

Transport Focus’s Travel during Covid-19 survey has consistently shown most passengers using public transport have felt safe, in relation to coronavirus, when travelling. In our last survey more than eight in 10 passengers using a train or bus (outside London) said they felt very or fairly safe.

New statistical analysis investigated the relationship between passenger satisfaction with specific aspects of the journey experience, which we have been tracking over time, and perceptions of safety. It provides insight into how important each aspect of the journey experience is in influencing passengers’ perceptions of safety while using public transport.

Key findings:

  • The ability to keep a safe distance from other passengers is the most important driver of passengers’ perceptions of safety across both bus and rail travel. Operators should continue to provide sufficient capacity to allow passengers to social distance and seek to improve information about busy/quieter services so passengers can plan.
  • The behaviour of other passengers and the number of passengers wearing face coverings are closely linked and are important. This should remain a focus for improvement, especially on trains, where satisfaction is lower than on buses.
  • Cleanliness is an important driver, but satisfaction amongst passengers is higher than for most other aspects of the journey – operators should focus on consistently maintaining these higher standards and further raising awareness of their efforts.

This analysis highlights once again the importance of the efforts the transport industry has been making to help passengers feel safe by addressing concerns about issues like social distancing, compliance with face coverings (where not exempt) and cleanliness.

Transport providers must continue to prioritise and implement measures that help passengers feel safe and confident to travel. We will continue to use our insight to monitor the experience of those people who have to travel and ensure their needs are understood.

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