Transport User Voice – April 2020 – London TravelWatch, Scotland and Wales
27 March 2020
Our work around Great Britain
The UK transport industry was hit by an unprecedented challenge as the spread of coronavirus meant people were supposed to only travel for essential purposes. Across the nation the industry has adjusted to enforce safety measures while meeting the needs of key workers and the movement of essential goods.
We’ve been working with London TravelWatch to help Transport for London (TfL) and other rail operators provide accurate information for passengers on reduced services. This followed the Government’s announcement encouraging staff to work from home in order to help stop the spread of coronavirus. In a joint statement, we welcomed the move as a ‘pragmatic response to the dramatic fall in passenger numbers and rising staff illness.’
During such an uncertain period we particularly wanted clarity over claiming back money for both season tickets and Advance tickets. TfL has responded by creating a web page to cover how passengers can get refunds.
London TravelWatch has also been supporting both the Government and Mayor in reiterating that only essential journeys should be made. These essential journeys are now only for key workers. This has also meant London TravelWatch giving vital feedback on where services must keep running as well as where reduced services would result in overcrowding and therefore go against Government advice on social distancing.
In Scotland, both ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper have introduced reduced timetables and are offering full refunds to passengers with unused tickets. Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh Trams are also operating a reduced frequency of service with the objective of providing a viable service for key workers.
Bus operators have reduced services but continue to keep communities connected with key workers in mind. Their first and last services, where possible, coordinate with NHS shift patterns.
Ferry travel across Scotland is for essential travel only. From now on ferries will be for those who live on Scotland’s islands, who have an essential need to travel to or from the mainland for essential supplies or business. The return of non-residents from islands back to the mainland will also be deemed essential travel.
It’s important to note that the role of front-line passenger facing staff, social media staff and telephone centre staff at this time has been exemplary in the most challenging times across all transport modes.
Like the rest of the rail network, Transport for Wales Rail has been operating a reduced service since Monday 23 March.
We are currently working with train operators including Transport for Wales Rail on the current situation with principles for timetable changes and best practice on refunds.
Although it will be operating a reduced service, there needs to be sufficient frequency for essential access and capacity for social distancing on those trains that do run. We are also monitoring the provision of information being given to passengers to make sure it is robust and up to date in the changing situation.
On buses, people in Wales are set to benefit from a new Bill that seeks to support and improve the planning and delivery of local bus services in Wales. The bill follows last year’s consultation on improving public transport in Wales – the Transport Focus response to that consultation is here.
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