Transport for London has appealed to the capital’s employers to help it control transmission of the coronavirus by asking staff to continue working from home as much as possible, to avoid peak travel periods and to move around by foot or bicycle if they do have to attend a place of work.
In a four-part Briefing for Business the transport body stresses that, although around 75 per cent of London Underground and 85 per cent of bus services are now running, services will only be able to carry up to 15 per cent of the passengers numbers from before the Covid-19 outbreak overall, even when all services have returned to full strength.
TfL warns that “you may be asked to wait to enter a station”, suggesting possible greater use of measures previously deployed to ease overcrowding at busy stations such as Oxford Circus. Other familiar crowd management methods, such as one-way systems in and out of stations and asking people to keep to the left when navigating concourses, could be used more extensively. Employees are also asked to maintain social distancing on stairs and escalators and in lifts.
A list of the busiest stations has previously been published and includes Barking, East Croydon, Liverpool Street and London Bridge London Underground stations, West Ham, Woolwich Arsenal DLR, North Acton and Walthamstow Central. The key time periods passengers are urged to avoid are 05:45-08:15 and 16:00-17:30.
The briefing is being publicised following Boris Johnson’s announcement last night that all non-essential shops in England will be able to re-open from 15 June, with outdoor markets and car showrooms preceding them from 1 June.
TfL says “hundreds of hand sanitiser points have started to be introduced across the transport network, with these soon being installed at every Tube and TfL Rail station,” as well as at all bus stations, TfL river piers, the Woolwich Ferry, the Emirates Air Line cable car and Victoria Coach Station.
Companies that rely on deliveries of supplies during the day or act as suppliers are asked to reduce the frequency of these journeys.
The briefing also emphasises the Streetspace scheme to widen pavements and create more bicycle lanes, including Central London “walking and cycling corridors” between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo and Old Street and Holborn, as well as between Merton and Elephant & Castle and Pimlico and Putney.
Commenting on TfL’s briefing, London Chamber of Commerce & Industry chief executive Richard Burge said, “It remains imperative” for as many London-based businesses as possible to “keep working from home as the norm for the foreseeable future in order to take the pressure off London’s transport network.”
He urged businesses to look at flexible hours and mixing these with home-working days, adding that “in return, TfL needs to look rapidly at fare structures that will incentivise businesses to respond to reduced transport capacity”. Supporting the government’s “phased approach to re-opening the economy” he said Employers must “take independent decisions for their business based on their risk assessment, the agreement of colleagues, and the readiness of clients and customers to trade with them”.
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