Front door boarding resumes as London buses bring in new coronavirus safety measures

29 May 2020, 07:20

Front door boarding will resume
Front door boarding will resume. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boarding through the front door of London buses will resume after Transport for London brought in new coronavirus safety measures aimed at protecting drivers.

Front door boarding was abandoned by TfL in April amid concerns over the health and safety of bus drivers following a number of deaths from coronavirus.

The measure will be reintroduced on 124 of the capital's bus routes from Saturday, it will also see customers once again required to touch in with payment cards.

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TfL said in a statement that analysis from the University College London has suggested that safety and hygiene improvements made by TfL has made it possible for front door boarding to resume by substantially reducing the risk to drivers of contracting coronavirus from customers.

Among the measures include enclosing the driver behind a screen, along with a new rigorous cleaning scheme which will mean bus cabs, handrails and other regularly touched areas treated with hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectant.

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Extra cleaning methods will be in place on commonly touched areas
Extra cleaning methods will be in place on commonly touched areas. Picture: PA

TfL said it anticipates all London buses will have returned to front door boarding by mid-June, and will be limiting capacity to ensure compliance with social-distancing guidelines.

Double-decker buses will be able to carry 20 customers while single-decker buses can carry between six and 10 customers.

Drivers will have the discretion to allow more customers on board if they are travelling in households or groups.

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Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander said the new measures are essential to protecting the health and safety of transport workers and passengers.

She said: "Scientific advice has confirmed that it is safe for front door boarding to resume on these buses thanks to these improvements.

"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."

The move has also received support from the trade union Unite.

Unite officer for London buses John Murphy said: "Bus workers have tragically lost their lives during this pandemic and our determination is to make sure that no other family endures this heartache.

"Unite has been working closely with experts at UCL, TfL and London bus operators to ensure that the return to front door loading does not adversely affect driver safety.

"Unite will continue to lobby and work with employers and TfL to ensure that all bus workers are full protected at work and that passengers and the wider public are cared for."