London Mayor challenged over protection of transport workers after death toll reaches 29

22 April 2020, 15:52 | Updated: 22 April 2020, 15:59

By Fiona Jones

Shelagh Fogarty challenged Sadiq Khan over the quality of protection for bus drivers after he confirmed 29 London transport workers have died with coronavirus.

After Shelagh last spoke to the Mayor, many bus drivers got in touch with concerns of hygiene and lack of PPE - some of their stories were so shocking, the Mayor sought to make immediate changes.

Sadiq Khan thanked the bus drivers for contacting LBC and the Mayor's office about their first-hand experiences.

"We've taken steps over and above the advice we've received," he said, including cleaning buses with an anti-viral spray, longer last disinfectant applied on top of that, and the deep cleaning of cabins.

Since Shelagh and he last spoke, TfL has stopped passengers entering buses from the front doors to keep passengers away from bus drivers.

Shelagh asked if he is "really confident" these measures are happening as when she spoke to bus drivers they were "powerless" to stop passengers spreading the disease.

"You're now certain are you that you've done everything you can to make sure that a driver in one of those booths has a glass or a perspex frame that doesn't have holes or gaps in it, has access to a clean bus when he gets on it, has hand gel if he needs to use that?" Shelagh asked.

"We've got 9000 buses across London and our message to bus drivers, and I've said this to trade unions, is if a bus driver doesn't feel their bus is safe to go out in please let the trade union rep know and we'll deal with that.

"No bus driver should feel that they're risking their health and their life if the bus they're driving isn't safe," Mr Khan said, assuring Shelagh he "understood" the fear of drivers after 29 transport workers have sadly died.

He said this policy also applies to the Tube.

The London Mayor's office has explicitly told bus companies that none of the drivers who are considered medically vulnerable should be driving buses during the pandemic and urged for them to be furloughed.