London TravelWatch's 10 passenger asks as lockdown eases

Following the Government's announcement on 10 May 2020, London TravelWatch has published 10 key asks for TfL, train companies and councils to make sure that public transport can cope with an increased number of passengers as more people start to return to work in London.

We want TfL, train companies and councils to:

Use journey planner and social media alerts to direct passengers away from ‘hotspot’ stations

TfL and train companies must actively tell passengers how to plan their journey so that they can avoid ‘hot spots’ via the TfL journey planner, on the National Rail Enquiries website and on social media.

2.    Keep fares as low as possible for those who have to use public transport

Key workers and those that cannot work from home are often amongst the lowest paid and can often have to travel long distances for work. Fares must not rise and should be kept as low as possible for those who have no choice but to travel for work. Fare rises should not be used to match capacity with demand, rather demand must be manged.

3.    Continue to prioritise key workers on public transport

Travel demand (the numbers of people needing to travel on public transport) must be managed so that capacity is not exceeded. This is vital if people are going to be able to travel safely and not overwhelm buses, trains and stations. Key workers should continue to be prioritised on public transport followed by those that cannot work from home. Segments of the economy should be opened up gradually, when and where there is transport capacity. Transport demand could be managed by staggering workplace start times or encouraging them to operate at night.

4.    Skip stops at busy stations so longer distance services and key interchanges are not overwhelmed

Timetables should be altered to miss some stops that have been previously served to ensure services and busy interchanges are not overwhelmed. Some services may have to start closer in to central London. Consideration should be given to the additional capacity that may be available using coaches that are presently idle. Dial-a-ride and other local authority and community minibus services could be utilised for wider community use.

5.    Give clear information on which services are running and how they will operate.

There must be clear and concise information for passengers on which services are running and how they will operate. Those with a disability, who usually need support in order to travel, must know what will be available to them. Older people will want to know when services are less busy.

6.    Adopt a ‘One Team Travel’ approach so real-time disruption information is available to everyone

The ‘One Team Travel’ approach of TfL working with Network Rail that was used so successfully during the Olympics should be re-established so that travellers  can plan their journeys and real-time disruption information is available to everyone.

7.    Extend stopping/loading restrictions on main roads and operate bus lanes 24/7

TfL’s Red Routes, borough main roads and bus lanes should operate 24/7, with only legitimate business loading allowed out of peak hours. There should be a review of parking on these streets. The central London congestion zone should be restored to operation along with parking controls. The Congestion Charge should be modified by reducing the residential discount and removing other exemptions to manage congestion and prioritise only essential private vehicle use. More streets could become bus and cycle only streets in the manner of Tottenham Court Road and Bank junction.

8.    Ban ‘A’ boards from pavements, making it safer to walk

All London’s streets must be managed to maximise the available clear space for pedestrians to allow for social distancing and enable walking. Unlawful pavement obstructions are presently poorly manged by both TfL and the London boroughs, though all have the powers to manage them properly. Advertising boards, other unlicensed obstructions and overhanging vegetation must be cleared from the pavement. Abandoned cycles should be cleared from cycle parking facilities. And where it is possible pavements should be widened to allow for easier social distancing, particularly at bus stops and busy shopping streets.

9.    Increase roads policing to enable safer walking and cycling and speed up buses

Walking and cycling are expected to increase during this period and hopefully in the future. This will mean an increased risk of collisions causing injury so it is now even more important that everyone obeys the rules. We want to see the re-establishment of police operations to reduce high levels of illegal vehicle use on London’s streets.

Slower speed initiatives, closing roads to through motor vehicle traffic, longer hours for bus lanes, bus & cycle only streets and cycle training can all enable cycling without impacting on bus services. Additional on-carriageway cycle parking will be essential. These are very cost effective measures and can be implemented quickly. London TravelWatch has also previously promoted cycling as part of linked trips to the station in outer London. Cycling and walking to the station would reduce the demand on local bus services.

10. Make all toilets at train and bus stations free

Personal hygiene has become a key concern for travellers and government in controlling this pandemic. Everyone whether walking, cycling or using public transport must have free access to either washing or hand sanitising facilities. Passengers should be encouraged to carry sanitiser, but should also be provided with it whilst they are travelling.