Lockdown end in sight?

Tomorrow (Sunday 10th May) the Government is expected to announce its plans to begin lifting lockdown measures currently in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s long been speculated that PM Boris Johnson wanted to “get the country back to work” by the end of May, but it is expected that the lockdown would be eased in ‘stages’ rather than in one go.

I have been informed today that NX Bus are planning to begin increasing their levels of service from Monday 25th May, with a return to near ‘pre-lockdown’ service levels in June.

Of course, it has already been announced that a small number of services are having frequency increases from tomorrow (Sunday 10th May).

But it seems there will be a ‘caveat’ in that passengers will be expected to continue to follow current ‘social-distancing’ measures in place, even as the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

At a press briefing held today, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a £250 million fund for improving cycling and walking infrastructure, and urged those who had been walking and cycling to work to continue to do so.

“Even if the UK transport network was running at full capacity, social distancing rules would mean only one in 10 passengers could travel”, he said.

So it will be interesting to see how many commuters traveling back to work will return to using buses.

In an earlier BBC News article I saw this morning, which I can’t find now, it did seem likely that the Government would not be insisting on passengers wearing facemasks or gloves, but would be ‘advising’ passengers to do so.

Which is a bit of a relief, as a poll I held on this website saw a majority of participants broadly against this idea.

If bus passengers feel the need to wear a face mask and/or gloves when traveling on buses (or other forms of public transport) then that should be their choice, and I’ll always respect their decision.

(Apart from when they start chucking their gloves on the floor or seats of the bus!)

I fully appreciate that this is going to be a ‘long road to recovery’ especially those who have been out of work and stuck in their homes for the last six weeks or so.

So there is likely going to be a period of time as people adjust to becoming ‘confident’ of traveling ‘safely’ on public transport again.

But I am equally confident that people have nothing to worry about. Apart from with the increased passenger usage, there is unfortunately likely to be increased levels of anti-social behaviour, as we previously became accustomed to. Nothing new there then!

What I don’t want to see are buses filled with nervous and paranoid passengers, constantly living in fear of catching this ‘virus’.

The obvious side-effect is that more people will choose to commute to work by private car or taxi. Which only results in much more traffic on the roads, so we end up back where we were before the ‘lockdown’, with buses running late and overcrowded.

Finding that magic balance could be hard work…


About WMBU

Stu is the founder of this West Midlands Bus Users website.
He is not a bus enthusiast, but as a regular passenger takes an interest in public transport related matters, having relied on buses to get around for over twenty-five years now.

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