Four Fifths of Tube and Bus Passengers Wearing Face Masks Say TfL

Fines not being handed out for non-compliance and will be 'last resort'

Picture: TfL

More than 80 per cent of Tube and bus passengers in the capital are now wearing face masks when they travel, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

Face coverings on public transport are mandatory in England from Monday (15 June), under new rules introduced as lockdown eases.

And TfL said there was high compliance in the city – with an estimated 80 per cent of bus user and up to 90 per cent of Tube passengers covering up.

A spokesperson said the network is “very pleased at the high level of compliance” on the first day the new law is in force.

British Transport Police, Metropolitan Police officers and TfL enforcement staff are at stations – but will not be handing out fines or stopping people from travelling today, they said.

Fines will be a “last resort” after a “bedding in period”, the spokesperson added.

Emerging scientific evidence suggests masks do not protect the wearer from catching coronavirus – but they can stop those with the disease passing it to others.

Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms must self-isolate at home for seven days – but masks could prevent those who have the virus but are showing no symptoms from spreading it.

England’s new travel law came into force as high street shops, department stores and shopping centres began to reopen.

In London, Tube and bus use has already begun to rise from lockdown lows –though TfL is still asking passengers to avoid its network except for essential journeys.

But Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander said there has been “more of a trickle back to the Tube network than a surge”.

Tube use is up from a low of five per cent of normal journeys to between 10 and 12 per cent last week, she told the London Assembly’s transport committee.

With some buses still not charging passengers, data for bus use is less reliable – but TfL estimates passenger numbers are up from a low of 15 per cent to between 25 and 30 per cent of normal levels now.

And despite shops reopening, those figures from last week were “replicated again this morning”, Ms Alexander said.

Transport for London (TfL) has been piloting the temporary distribution of face coverings at targeted Tube and bus stations, as well as providing advice on how to make your own and encouraging in-station retailers to make them available. Around 30,000 face coverings have been distributed during the morning peak.

TfL reminding passengers to treat everyone on the network with respect and compassion, and to understand that some other passengers and staff will be unable to wear a face covering for medical reasons that may not be immediately obvious. Staff are not required to wear a face covering when they are not in public areas, which could include the driver’s cab, control rooms or working in maintenance areas.

Even when TfL operates a normal service it will still only be able to carry about 13-20 per cent of the typical number of Tube and bus passengers to enable social distancing.

People who have no choice but to use public transport should avoid the busiest times and locations. These are from 5:45am to 8:15am and from 4:00pm to 5:30pm.

Passengers are urged to take the most direct route and avoid busy interchanges.

Written with contributions from Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter

June 15, 2020