Fares are again being collected on all 9,00-plus London buses following the full introduction of additional measures to protect drivers and passengers from infection by Covid-19, Transport for London has announced.
Bus-users will now “touch in” using only readers next to the front door of all buses, except for, the time being, around 400 of the 1,000 three-door New Routemaster models, 200 of which will also permit middle-door entry and a further 200 of which will continue to allow entry by all three doors.
Limits on the number of passengers allowed on board each bus have also been relaxed in line with the easing of national government rules on social distancing. Double-decker buses are now permitted to carry up to 30 people at any one time (up from a total of 20), and single-deckers between 11 and 14 (up from between six and 10), depending on the model of bus.
Front door boarding of most London buses was stopped in mid-April in order to protect drivers from the virus’s transmission, with the exception of vehicles possessing a front door only. Passengers were not required to pay for their journeys to avoid transmission caused by “touching in”. Greater protection for drivers’ cabs and more stringent cleaning systems have since been introduced. Over 30 London bus workers, nearly all of them drivers, have died after contracting Covid-19.
London’s bus services were sharply scaled back from 20 March as part of a massive reduction of all public transport provision in the capital in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus and create safe environments for health and other essential workers to continue doing their jobs.
In mid-May, TfL announced that service levels of all public transport systems were rising again, reaching 85 per cent for buses, along with 75 per cent for the Underground, 80 per cent for the Overground and Docklands Light Railway, and 95 per cent for London Tram services.
Sadiq Khan has previously confirmed to the London Assembly that changes in social distancing regulations on TfL services would not be imposed by national government against TfL’s wishes, despite the government’s imposition of an “oversight” body, the “London Covid Transport Task Force”, as a condition of its financial bailout.
It has emerged that the Task Force is chaired by Sir Edward Lister, a member of Boris Johnson’s 10 Downing Street team and formerly his chief of staff when he was Mayor. However, TfL has been unable to provide On London with the rest of the Task Force membership.
Photograph: Finsbury Park bus station.
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