Watchdog calls for better information to help passengers social distance

28 April 2021

Transport Focus is calling for all transport operators to give passengers the information they need to help them social distance.

As people begin to return to travel the watchdog investigated information provided by rail and bus operators to help passengers avoid busier services.

We found that many but not all operators now give information about space on board their services.

Recent Transport Focus data shows nine in 10 people would find it useful to have information on how busy services are as soon as restrictions begin to be eased. Even when Covid-19 is less of a risk more than eight in 10 say they would find this information useful.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“As restrictions ease and more people return to public transport in the coming weeks, it will get harder for passengers to maintain social distancing at busier times.

“Reliable information can help passengers plan, avoid busier services and make social distancing easier. It’s vital that more transport operators share this information and keep it up to date so people can make informed decisions.”

Operators should make crowding information available in website journey planners, apps and other places like National Rail Enquiries and Traveline.

Operators should continue to improve information by offering greater personalisation, including proactive alerts to passengers if their services are disrupted or likely to be busier than normal.

Today’s report also provides a number of examples of industry innovation and best practice which should be replicated across the country.

Transport Focus is calling for transport operators to:

  1. provide information about space on board services where it is not already available
  2. ensure information about space on board is as accurate and reliable as possible and is promoted to encourage further use
  3. learn from best practice to ensure the information about space on board is easy to understand, transparent, trusted and accessible
  4. provide information about space on board in journey planners to ensure information is easy to find.

Notes to editors

Will there be space onboard? report.

Transport Focus surveyed 5000 members of its online panel who shared their experiences feedback on information about space on board public transport.

For further information please contact: Kieran Watkins, senior communications officer, email:

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