Transport User Voice – February 2021 – The third lockdown

28 January 2021

Making sure people can make essential journeys

With a strong stay at home message in England, Scotland and Wales, timetables for buses, trains and trams are being scaled back. Many scheduled coach services have been suspended. That’s understandable – dramatically fewer people are travelling because there are limited reasons we can leave home.

As you might expect, our most recent travel during Covid-19 survey showed a huge drop in people making journeys other than for essential reasons. Perhaps as a reflection of wider anxieties about Covid there was an increase in people saying they are avoiding public transport, or don’t feel it’s safe. Our latest findings will be out on Friday 29 January.

But timetables must still allow those who need to travel to get where they have to go. For instance, journeys to work if you can’t do your job from home – including in healthcare, essential shops, manufacturing and construction. And there’s a new category; getting to and from somewhere to get where the vaccine. We’ve published principles for amending timetables, intended to make sure those who must still travel aren’t forgotten about. Here are some of the key points:

  • Co-ordination: where several companies serve the same market, co-ordinate timetables rather than make reductions to each in isolation. This could include buses ‘covering’ for rail and vice versa.
  • Capacity: as well as reflecting levels of demand, the capacity provided by the reduced timetable must also take into account the need for passengers to socially distance.
  • First and last services: the needs of key workers must not be overlooked. Some people will still need to get to work/home outside of core hours. Existing first and last services should be maintained.
  • Feedback: make it easy for passengers to highlight unintended consequences arising from the changes.
  • Information: changes must be well publicised and there should be a ‘single source of the truth’ for revised timetables rather than different channels giving different information.

If your journey has been impacted by recent timetable changes get in touch with your bus, train or tram operator. But if you don’t get anywhere you can then get in touch with our team at Transport Focus.

With changes being made at fairly short notice, if you must travel it’s best to check online first. National Rail Enquiries for trains and Traveline for buses, trams (and trains). Both cover the whole of Great Britain, although you can also use Traveline Scotland and Traveline Cymru for Scotland and Wales specifically.


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