New survey gives us an insight into the experiences of passengers travelling around London during the lockdown

20 April 2020

There has been a lot of focus on key workers over the last few weeks as London has settled into life during the ‘lockdown’. While most of us have been encouraged not to travel, it has been clear that many will still have to get to work to provide the vital services which keep the capital running, whether they work for the NHS, the Police, or in a supermarket.

London TravelWatch has been working with its sister organisation, Transport Focus to try to find out a bit more about the experiences of people using/not using public transport during the first week or two after the Government advised that people should stay at home and only travel if absolutely necessary. Transport Focus sent a survey to over 15,000 members of their transport user panel on 2 April and also asked questions about people’s experiences in attempting to claim a refund on season tickets. Transport Focus published their report last week.

We’ve been having a look at the results that relate to London and while the sample was not big enough to be statistically significant, it provides a useful snapshot of passenger’s experiences early on during the ‘lockdown’ and gives us an idea of the type of journeys that people have been making and the reasons for them.

Key findings include:

  • People are working, with high numbers in health (24%), local/central government including education (15%) and transport (13%).But trips for essential shopping account for the largest number of journeys
  • When they are making journeys, the majority of Londoners are walking rather than taking public transport, although car use is significant
  • The provision of information about services running is generally good in London. The ease of finding this information before journeys were made is highest for train services (83%) followed by bus (79%) and Underground/DLR (75%).

We found that some people were concerned about crowding on the Tube although on other modes this wasn’t really the case.

These journeys have been frightening, as there are still FAR too many people traveling – especially on certain lines like the Victoria Line and Piccadilly…TfL needs to be stopping people who should not be travelling, so that NHS staff (myself and my colleagues) and food shop workers can get to work safely.

Underground and train passenger

But there was a clear message that many people need to use public transport to do essential shopping and some feel that they are needlessly being made to feel guilty about their trips to the supermarket.

I needed to shop for milk and bread. So needed to visit the supermarket. Due to my visual impairment I find it easier to travel by bus than try and cross roads. It was distressing that the announcement on the bus said that the only people who should be using the public transport were NHS workers. In fact the only people on the bus were all disabled who obviously needed to use the bus service.  We feel bad enough, it does not help making us feel bad.

Bus passenger

Some people have decided to change their travel habits, walking or using their cars instead of public transport. It will be interesting to see if these new habits are reversed once we return to normality. But issues of personal security late at night are still at the forefront of people’s minds.

If I have time I walk as much of the route as I can so I don’t have to go on public transport – though I’d be uncomfortable doing this after a late shift.

Underground passenger

We found that many Londoners are retaining their season tickets because they are still using the system or want to/think they might have to use them. But almost a quarter of those choosing not to claim a refund were either not sure that they could claim or about how to claim. And of course, those still travelling are sometimes facing longer journeys and or waits for trains but they are still expected to pay the same fares.

Trains are now running on an off peak service. I have to leave home 20 minutes earlier to get to work at the same time (I’m a nurse). Yet I still have to pay full peak fares despite this service not being provided.

Train passenger

All in all, this research raises some interesting questions, in particular the need for more clarity about season ticket refunds. We’ve made a start on answering the key questions that season ticket holders might have about refunds and we will be adding further information once we have it. We’ll also be making the case for other improvements when we speak to operators. In the meantime, we would also like to hear more about the journey experiences of Londoners over the last few weeks, particularly key workers. Please email and also feel free to ask any questions we might not have thought about on ticket refunds.

London TravelWatch London TravelWatch London TravelWatch
Like what you read? Please click below to share on social media.