By: Nandika Chand | Last Updated July 16, 2020
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, through the Travel Safe this Summer campaign hopes to encourage commuters back onto public transport amid the slowing down of COVID-19 pandemic cases across the country.
Majority of UK workers travel to work by car, but restrictions on public transport is seen as one of the main obstacles for many workers returning to offices in cities, in particular – London. Car travel is not thought to be viable in cities because of congestion and the likelihood of increased carbon dioxide emissions.
Government officials said the Travel Safe this Summer campaign would be a first step in boosting the use of public transport. In London, 94% of transport services are operational but passenger numbers are just 20%.
An official said the government needs to change its guidance which states that travellers should consider all other forms of transport before using public transport.
Andy Bagnall, chief strategy officer at the Rail Delivery Group, said rail companies want to support the government in striking the difficult balance between reopening the economy and guarding against a further widespread outbreak of the virus. He said people need to be reassured and their confidence boosted to travel safely while adhering to government advice.
“Train operators are maximising capacity, boosting cleaning and helping with hygiene while also asking passengers to travel at quieter times where they can and to protect others by wearing a face covering,” Bagnall said.
However, the general secretary of the Trade Union Congress Frances O’Grady said the government should not rush out any annoucements without proper thought or consultation. He said re-opening of offices is not enough to fix the economy. “The government must do far more to protect and create jobs,” Frances said.
Because of the prevailing COVID-19, the British government is worried about the impact on city center economies as vast majority of workers continue to stay at home.