Passengers are no longer required to tap in.
Amidst the mounting death toll of coronavirus, there came the sad news in the past week that twenty-one Transport for London employees have died from the virus. Despite an 85% fall in passenger journeys on London buses, the current social distancing measures are still putting drivers at risk, so TfL have opted to change boarding procedures across the bus network. From Monday, all passengers will now start boarding through the middle door of London buses, wherever possible.
The decision comes on the heels of a trial scheme, which was carried out across 140 buses and demonstrated that social distancing can be achieved on the buses if passengers do not pass the driver when boarding. Passengers will now enter through the middle doors (and the rear doors of the new Routemaster buses), unless they’re travelling on a bus with only a single front door.
Hopefully, this new procedure – in conjunction with full protective screens, no seating near the front, and enhanced sick pay for staff – will help protect TfL workers and save lives. The other result, which you might have already guessed if you’re a seasoned bus traveller, is that bus travel in London is now essentially free for the time being. Since most buses only have Oyster and card readers beside the driver, passengers are no longer required to tap in when boarding. (This is likely to further harm TfL’s lost revenue, but they’re in discussions with the government to cover lost funds.)
Of course, you’re still advised to stay home and avoid journeys that aren’t absolutely essential. But if you do have to travel, it’s good to know that the lives of key workers are going to be further protected by the new guidelines.
Meanwhile, the police have issued guidelines to clear up what we can and cannot do during lockdown.
Also published on Medium.