Sadiq Khan urges Londoners to avoid public transport as lockdown is eased

28 May 2020, 17:37 | Updated: 28 May 2020, 17:47

By Seán Hickey

The Mayor of London urged the public to think twice before using public transport as services are slowly brought back to normal.

Sadiq Khan has sent a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to scrap plans to charge under 18s for TfL use. He told Shelagh Fogarty that Mr Shapps gave TfL a grant to operate through lockdown on the condition some things were changed as lockdown is lifted, including the idea to get under 18s to begin paying for transport on the bus network.

The Mayor of London told Shelagh that there is "concern for parents of children that live far from schools if free travel is taken away" and it isn't acceptable for such a policy to be implemented.

READ MORE: PM announces lockdown changes from Monday in England

"To what degree is the motivation behind the decision in the first place to discourage public transport" Shelagh asked Mr Khan as he reiterated the point for people to refrain from using public transport unless absolutely necessary. He made the point that such services should be reserved for those who have to use them, such as aforementioned schoolchildren and vulnerable Londoners.

He added that a good way to maintain social distancing in the network while services increase is to "stagger opening times for schools", arguing that "as long as schools stagger start and end times we won't have too much of a problem" in terms of overcrowding on the TfL network.

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Shelagh asked Mr Khan how ready the network is for lockdown easing, where the Mayor was delighted to announce that "this morning we had 86% of our tubes 80% of our buses" and his office are pushing to increase capacity in the coming days and weeks.

"We are running the maximum public transport we can, as more and more people return to work we will do more" he said. The Mayor of London was quick to state yet again to avoid using the network unless necessary. He told listeners that it is "really important that if you can, walk or cycle to work or school or work."

Sadiq Khan told Shelagh it is important that he and other authorities have looked at what has worked well in other countries while lifting lockdown and he concluded that "what has worked well is to tell people to avoid public transport." Shelagh pointed out that "it's been easier than it's about to be" as the UK gears up to ease lockdown, she wanted to know how the TfL network has prepared for the difficulties the network will face as more people are on the streets.

Mr Khan admitted that it will be difficult for the network to cope if social distancing and his own advice isn't taken as Londoners are out and about more. He referenced the UK's up and coming track and trace system as a vital part of the public playing their part in controlling the virus. He urged the public to "prevent inadvertently spreading the virus" by staying at home if they are told to stay at home by contact tracers.