Focus of transport network is to ensure that key workers can move around
TfL has issued advice that all transport services and travel should now be solely focused on ensuring key workers can move around as needed. They say nobody should be using public transport or travelling for anything other than essential journeys.
They have reduced the regularity of train and tube services and introduced extra cleansing of stations and rolling stock to reduce the spread of the infection. The new timetables started to come into effect this Monday (23 March) and will continue to be introduced over the week. Initially tubes and trains have become crowded again after the new schedules started leading to the calls for people to stay off the network unless absolutely necessary.
TfL have also suspended the Congestion Charge, Ultra Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone to support key workers. The Mayor of London announced on Friday that all road user charging schemes in the capital will be temporarily suspended. None of the charges are in operation from this Monday (23 March) – until further notice.
In a statement they said, “This move has been made to ensure London’s critical workers, particularly those in the NHS, are able to travel round London as easily as possible during this national emergency. It also supports the supply chain, the effort to keep supermarkets fully stocked and the city’s continued operation.
“Government advice is that people must limit social contact and travel should only be undertaken if absolutely necessary. The roads need to be kept clear for the emergency services and key workers who get around by car. Drivers are asked to consider the wider implications when thinking about using their vehicles.
“To further support vital hospital staff getting into work during these challenging times, NHS workers will be given a code that waives the 24 hour access fee for Santander Cycles, meaning any journey under 30 minutes is free. In addition to free access, docking stations near hospitals are being prioritised to ensure there is a regular supply of bikes for medical staff to use. “
Transport unions have joined calls for Londoners to keep off the Tube saying they are worried about protecting the health of Londoners and their staff, who have been included in the government’s list of key workers.
Finn Brennan, the London Underground district organiser for the train drivers union Aslef said: “Still heavy loading on some Tube lines this morning making social distancing impossible.
“This is endangering the health of the vital workers who have to use the system.
“The Government must act now to ensure only ESSENTIAL journeys are made.”
The RMT union, which represents many London Underground staff, released a statement this Monday morning saying, “There is still enormous personal pressure on the Tube workforce who are exposed to levels of social contact that the Government say are unacceptable for the wider public.
“The only people using our transport services should be essential workers who have to travel. Everyone else should stay away to protect themselves, the staff and the wider community.
“RMT will continue to do everything in our power to protect the health, safety and livelihoods of our members throughout this crisis.”
Some Londoners have suggested more trains should be put on during rush hour to avoid the congestion.
Twitter user @duckpilotuk posted a picture of a full Tube carriage at 6.35am this Monday, and said: “TFL has reduced the frequency of London Underground trains, which are now busier than they should be. Not much social distancing on the Piccadilly Line this morning. I am classed as a ‘key worker’ and rely on the Tube.”
@TfL @itvnews @BBCNews @MetroUK @EveningStandard @SadiqKhan TFL has reduced the frequency of London Underground trains, which are now busier than they should be. Not much social distancing on the Piccadilly Line this morning. I am classed as a 'key worker' and rely on the Tube. pic.twitter.com/v4h9fttvDt— M (@duckpilotuk) March 23, 2020
Reacting to photos of the overcrowding, Samantha Young tweeted: “Some of these people have important jobs, but surely TfLhas a duty to make sure distancing is observed on their trains. It doesn’t make sense that this is being allowed still.”
Deepa Santhosh, who was using the Metropolitan Line this morning, tweeted, “The train is now nearly full..cannot maintain 2m distance and there are people coughing. How does this make any sense?”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan responded, “Londoners should not be travelling by any mode of transport unless it is absolutely necessary, and only critical workers should be using public transport.”
He added: “TfL will continue to do everything it can to provide a safe service, but like many organisations it is dealing with rising absence levels and needs Londoners co-operation in these challenging times.”
Some smaller Tube stations have been closed until further notice to help key stations remain open, allowing essential journeys on the network.
As of Saturday 21 March, the following stations were closed:
o Regent’s Park
o Warwick Avenue
o Kilburn Park
o Charing Cross
o Holland Park
o Lancaster Gate
o Chancery Lane
o Great Portland Street
o Bow Road
o Stepney Green
o Mansion House
o St James’s Park
o Gloucester Road
o Swiss Cottage
o Tuffnell Park
o Chalk Farm
o Mornington Crescent
o Goodge Street
o Clapham South
o South Wimbledon
o Caledonian Road
o Covent Garden
o Hyde Park Corner
o Bounds Green
o Manor House
o Blackhorse Road
Further stations may close at a later date depending on staff numbers.
TfL have also made a statement to the London Stock Exchange to announce that Mike Brown, who had previously been intending to leave for another job, will be now staying on.
Do not travel unless it is essential
This is to stop the spread of the Corona Virus and save lives
Ne voyagez pas sauf si cela est indispensable. C'est pour arrêter la propagation du virus Corona et sauver des vies.
Viaggia solo per spostamenti essenziali. È importante per fermare la diffusione del Corona virus e salvare vite.
Nesant būtinybės, nekeliaukite.
Taip siekiama sustabdyti viruso plitimą ir apsaugoti gyvybes.
Nie podróżuj, chyba że jest to konieczne.
Ma to na celu powstrzymanie rozprzestrzeniania się wirusa Corona i ratowanie życia.
Somente use transporte público se for por um motivo essencial. Isso é para impedir a propagação do corona vírus e para salvar vidas.
Cӑlӑtoreşte doar pentru drumurile esenţiale. Asta opreşte rӑspândirea corona virusului şi salveazӑ vieţi.
No viajar a menos que sea esencial.
Esto es para detener la propagación del Corona virus y salvar vidas.
Gerekli olmadıkça seyahat etmeyin.
Bu, Koronavirusunun yayılmasını durduracak ve hayat kurtaracaktır.
Written with contributions from Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter
March 23, 2020