London’s buses to return to front-door boarding
Posted: 29 May 2020 | Sam Mehmet (Intelligent Transport)
To further ensure the safety of customers and bus drivers, new limits to the number of customers on board at any one time will also be introduced.
London’s buses are to begin returning to front-door boarding, with customers required to touch in with Oyster, contactless and concessionary cards, Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed.
The move follows work by a multidisciplinary team from UCL’s Centre for Transport Studies and Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering to assess the risks for drivers in their cabs and close work with bus operators and the UNITE union to develop improvements to the screens beside bus drivers.
The UCL analysis found that the steps that TfL has taken – by adding a film layer to screens and sealing off gaps around the screen as a whole, including around the Oyster reader – substantially reduces the risk to drivers of contracting coronavirus from customers.
This is on top of the cleaning regime, which sees cabs and handrails, along with other regularly touched areas, treated with hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectant.
Front-door London bus boarding will therefore be reinstated on further routes as soon as possible, and it is anticipated that all London buses will have returned to front-door boarding by mid-June.
Reverting to pre-pandemic arrangements aims to improve social distancing for customers entering or exiting the bus by reinstating the traditional flows on and off the bus, and while queuing at stops or stations, as well as giving TfL accurate information to ensure it is providing the service needed to enable safe travel for all.
To further ensure the safety of customers and bus drivers, new limits to the number of customers on board at any one time will be introduced. This will help customers to observe the national guidance to maintain a two-metre distance between them and others wherever possible.
Double-decker buses will be able to carry 20 customers. Single-decker buses, depending on the size of the bus, will carry between six and 10 customers. The driver will have discretion to allow more customers on board if they are travelling in households or groups.
Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “The safety of our transport workers and passengers is absolutely paramount. Working closely with unions, TfL has introduced a range of measures to improve safety including putting in place an enhanced anti-viral cleaning regime across the network, applying a protective film to the Perspex screen of bus driver cabs to seal off holes and preventing passengers sitting next to bus drivers. All frontline staff have also been offered simple face masks.
‘From this weekend passengers will be asked to resume boarding through the front door on some of our buses. All buses where we are reverting to front door boarding have had additional work carried out to seal off the opening at the bottom of the safety screen which was historically used for cash payments.
“Scientific advice has confirmed that it is safe for front door boarding to resume on these buses thanks to these improvements. These enhancements are urgently being rolled out across the network on a route-by-route basis.
“Our message to Londoners is clear though – please work from home and travel on foot or bike if you can. Public transport is a precious resource that should be preserved for those who need it.
“But if you absolutely have to travel on our network, wear a face mask, avoid the busiest times and respect the new arrangements to enable everyone to travel safely.”