Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Transport User Voice – October 2021 – Rebuilding passengers’ confidence

28 September 2021

A look beyond social distancing

“I would like companies to continue supplying cleaning supplies like hand sanitiser to passengers, and reinforcing the need to be safe, despite social distancing going away.” Male, 21, London

This is just one of comments we heard in our latest research into how people feel now Covid-19 restrictions have eased on public transport.

In this research some people were completely ready for life to get back to normal. Many others still felt cautious and told us they would have preferred more restrictions to have stayed in place for longer to help them feel safer.

We’ve used the interim findings to inform the government’s social distancing review and to help operators encourage and support people to try public transport again.

It’s clear that transport operators should not rush back to normal. Many passengers will want to see additional Covid-19 measures in place and clear communication to reassure them and help them feel safe.

Here were some of the key findings:

  • people are still at very different stages on the journey back to ‘normal’, with a wide range of attitudes
  • space for social distancing is still important, but people appreciate it often won’t be practical and it’s being replaced with looser efforts to give people more personal space when they can
  • for now, face coverings are the key safety measure people are relying on to help them feel safe
  • many current passengers, and even more of those who have stayed away, still feel anxious about using public transport
  • operators need to work to maintain the additional Covid-19 measures and communications that are currently in place to reassure passengers that it is safe.

Across the summer we spoke to the same group of people to understand their views as the rules changed.

One person said: “I have been double jabbed so I’m happy to travel on public transport without a mask on… it makes a big difference.” Male, 47, Cardiff

Meanwhile, another person urged for more clarity on the rules: “I think it is silly that different companies are all doing different things, and nobody knows what they should be doing, so it does put me off using public transport as I still feel the need to distance and wear a mask and I don’t want someone just getting on and sitting next to me.” Female, 36, Hull

People want to know what to expect and what is expected of them when travelling. Visible signs will help reassure passengers: “It’s not always possible to distance on public transport and that can’t be helped but good ventilation, sanitisers on board and perhaps more notices about wearing masks will remind people what they should be doing.” Female, 37, Nottingham

We will continue to speak to people about the changes to restrictions and as more people return to public transport.

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