Transport User Voice – April 2021 – Chief executive’s editorial

29 March 2021

Can you move down a bit please…?

Many of us will not have had to say that recently. The crush to get on tubes, trains and buses has been avoided for most of us. However, as we hopefully move along the UK’s various Government unlocking roadmaps, and the need to travel comes back, it is inevitable that passenger numbers will rise day by day. Inevitably sunny days will also pull people towards beaches and open spaces.

The promised review of social distancing and face coverings is yet to start. So, we are going to be dealing with a situation where the one metre plus rule still applies – but to stay two metres apart if you can. If you cannot, try to make sure you are one metre apart and make doubly sure to wear a face covering.

Social distancing and public transport are not natural companions. So, what will happen in the meantime? Preventing people who are intent on getting on will be nigh on impossible.

People travelling now have either no choice but to use public transport or have decided the risks are manageable. But if more people pile on to buses and trains it leaves people already on board with little choice. Unlike many other environments, like shops, it is hard or harder to get out. So, the transport industry is going to need a careful message – travel with confidence, yes, but social distancing may be difficult.

So, what is Transport Focus doing about this? We are asking passengers and those thinking about travelling again some in-depth questions about their attitudes and feelings on this issue. The results should be out in April.

We’re reviewing the information that train operators are providing, looking at the clarity of information on everything from face coverings, refund rules and how busy trains are expected to be. While there’s good work by operators more can be done to keep things up to date. And we’re looking at the information being given on how busy services have been and actually are on the day. Again, these tools can help build confidence. The report will be out in early April. We’ve also been focussing on attitudes to safety certification schemes – the sort of ‘we meet the xx standard’ – to see what people think.

Many people will have not been on public transport for some time and will be looking for more reassurance. Empower passengers with information. Make that first trip a good one. Win passengers back one by one as they will tell their friends and family that it is OK. That way confidence can be rebuilt and reinforced.


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