Transport User Voice – March 2021 – Lessons learnt for 2021

25 February 2021

How can passengers feel safe to travel?

It’s safe to say 2020 was a year like no other. But what have we learnt from passengers about the pandemic and how will it continue to affect travel?

It may be a while until we’re able to travel again for non-essential journeys so it’s important to know, when the time is right, how to get passengers back on public transport.

“…there’s no escaping public transport once you’re on and it’s moving. In shops and restaurants you can assess the risk according to how busy it is and how many are breaching the rules by not wearing a face covering and you are then able to walk away if the risk feels too high.” Responder in our Travel during Covid-19 survey

Our latest report pulls together what we have learnt from our research throughout last year. These are lessons that governments and transport operators can use to help people feel safe going back to public transport once restrictions ease. It can also help make sure those who are making essential journeys during the lockdown are able to do so with confidence.

There is a gap between experience and perceptions on the safety of public transport. While the majority of those who have travelled say it feels safe, those who haven’t are still concerned.

Transport Focus insight suggests that there won’t be a quick return to normal. Among other things, the pandemic has changed the way we work. Public transport operators can no longer expect all commuters to return and many have said they expect to be working from home more even after it’s over.

So we have put together five key areas where transport operators should focus their efforts. To ensure passengers can make essential journeys with confidence now, operators and governments should:

  1. provide enough space and information to support social distancing onboard
  2. maintain cleanliness and communicate this effectively
  3. drive up compliance of the rules, especially face coverings (if not exempt).

And then, when the pandemic is behind us, to attract passengers back operators and governments should look to provide:

  1. more flexible fares for those commuting less often
  2. offers and promotions to encourage lapsed users to return.

While positive communications, messaging and ‘word of mouth’ from trusted friends and family will all play a part, the best way to ease concerns over safety is to get people to see for themselves. Giving people incentives to do that is key.

Transport Focus will continue to share its insight with operators and governments to ensure that transport users’ voices are heard, to help rebuild confidence and attract passengers back to public transport in future.

Read the full report here.


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