Fifth of Londoners plan to work from home more often amid anxiety about public transport

Fifth of Londoners plan to work from home more often amid anxiety about public transport

Twenty-two per cent of Londoners say they are planning to work from home “more often” after the UK coronavirus lockdown ends and 16 per cent say they will not be using public transport “in the foreseeable future,” according to a new opinion poll.

The survey, by YouGov for business organisation London First, suggests there could be large fall-offs in the use of bus, London Underground and train services and small increase in commuting by bicycle as Londoners look ahead to how their travel to and from work might change in future.

Caps on passenger numbers, more “deep cleaning”, mandatory mask wearing and availability of hand sanitiser are among the measures most favoured by Londoners to improve their confidence about using public transport post-lockdown.

“Extensive contact tracing” of people who’ve tested positive for the coronavirus would also make some Londoners more likely to feel safe on buses and the various rail services and there was significant support for spreading demand for public transport more evenly across the day and for “a clear and enforced approach to social distancing” in general.

The biggest anticipated fall in usage was among bus commuters: 32 per cent of of the 1,010 poll respondents said the bus has been their usual way of getting to work and back and only 21 per cent plan to make those daily journeys by bus post-lockdown.

There was a similar finding with the London Underground, which was named by 36 per cent as their usual commuting mode. Only 24 per cent said they expect it to be once the lockdown has ended. Respondents who said they usually use “train” transport (excluding the Tube) stood at 20 per cent, and 14 per cent said they think it will be in future.

The percentage who said they usually commute by was seven per cent, and 11 per cent said they expect to cycle the route to work and back in future. The 27 per cent figure who customarily walk or run was unchanged when respondents were asked about their post-lockdown intentions. Six per cent of respondents said they don’t know what transport mode they will use.

In relation to public transport, respondents were asked to pick three confidence-boosting measures from 12 options. Caps on the numbers of people allowed to use buses, train or Tube carriages at any one time were favoured by 35 per cent, followed by “extensive contact tracing”, greater frequency of deep cleaning, the wearing of face masks by passengers and staff (all 33 per cent) and sanitiser available “as standard” (32 per cent).

A “clear and enforced approach to social distancing” was in the top three options for 29 per cent of those surveyed and “changes to peak times and office hours to spread demand during the day” was picked by 27 per cent. Eleven percent favoured travel restrictions on some passengers to reduce demand at peak times. Ten per cent said “nothing in particular” would improve their confidence.

London First has urged national government to “step in” to plug TfL’s “revenue gap” and help the capital’s transport network “play its part in the national effort against Covid-19”.

Commenting on the poll findings, London First chief executive Jasmine Whitbread said that “many Londoners will need reassurance before getting back on public transport” and called for “a clear package of measures and absolute clarity on who can travel and at what time if we are to get London back on its feet quickly”.

Photograph: Omar Jan.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s absolutely essential in spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. One cough or sneeze can spread infected droplets up to 3 metres according to many sources. So it’s urgent to stop the spray to prevent transmission. Merely speaking or exhaling spreads droplets. Masks & face coverings may not prevent the wearer from getting it. But they do restrain the spread. It someone can’t spread it, others can’t get it. In jam-packed places like Hong Kong and Japan they’ve proven very effective. Hong Kong has only seen a handful of deaths. Across Asia masks are basically seen as “clothing”. Going without one is like being naked. If we are able to feel safe about going out again, it needs to be the same here.

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