Keeping the Transport Network Safe

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 29th July 2020.

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Photo of Alison Moore Alison Moore Labour

Is TfL maintaining a two-metre social distancing rule on the network or will they move to one-metre plus?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Thank you, Chair. The number of people that can safely use London’s transport network continues to be constrained and ensuring the safety of customers and staff on the transport is my priority. TfL has done significant work to help facilitate social distancing on the public transport network. It has been in close contact with the DfT, PHE and other bodies throughout the pandemic to ensure that the correct advice is being given to customers. The current Government guidance is that whether on the transport network or elsewhere, people should maintain a social distance of two metres, if possible. If this is not possible, they should then take a one‑metre plus distance. There are clearly some occasions on the transport network, as in other settings, where maintaining a two‑metre social distance is going to be impossible. This is why customers must wear a face covering unless they are exempt. Face coverings should cover the nose and the mouth and be used for the entirety of the journey, including on platforms and in ticket halls.

On buses, drivers can control entry and therefore can limit the number of customers on board at any one time. Controlling passenger boarding is more difficult on the Underground, but TfL’s data suggests that as services increase to near pre-pandemic levels, Tube services have been able to meet demand and support social distancing. There is even available capacity outside of peak hours. I am pleased that TfL has been able to run services at nearly 100% and to help customers maintain social distancing as much as possible. To enhance safety, TfL has placed 1,000 hand sanitising points across the transport network for people to use. There is also social distancing signage and posters across the network and one-way systems have been introduced to help passengers keep their distance. TfL will continue to closely monitor public transport usage and will take all steps necessary and practical to keep customers and staff safe on the network.

Photo of Alison Moore Alison Moore Labour

Thank you very much, Mr Mayor. This is all crucial to public confidence in using the public transport system when they need to. When I have had to do so recently, I have to say I have noticed a mixed picture around face coverings. Mr Mayor, on 25 June TfL said 90% of passengers on the network were using a face mask, but as I said, I see a mixed picture.

Can you update me on that figure and confirm the percentages of those passengers who are not wearing a mask who were exempt and those who were not exempt and therefore liable to enforcement action?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Sure. Thank you for your intelligence in relation to your experience, I suspect in outer London. That is really useful to know. The figures I have got are figures from TfL commissioned research and by their nature, they are averages. TfL commissioned research shows that around 90% of customers are wearing a face covering on our public transport network at all times. Of the remaining 10% who are not wearing a covering or at any other time, around half say they had an exemption, and that is 5% of our customers saying they have an exemption to the rules and regulations, which means 5% have not. We will continue to enforce going forward.

Photo of Alison Moore Alison Moore Labour

In the context of that enforcement, Mr Mayor, I appreciate that the legal position, the statutory position for TfL enforcement officers to be able to act came out at the beginning of July. When did enforcement action actually start against those not wearing face coverings and how many fines have been issued to date? It would be really helpful, because of that mixed picture, to understand the breakdown of fines across mode of transport, whether it is buses, Tubes, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) or surface rail.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Thanks for your question. It is on buses where we tend to have not as many people using a face covering. On Tubes and the DLR it tends to be higher. The focus in the 30 weeks has been British Transport Police and TfL enforcement officers on buses, so there are three tools that they have. One is to stop somebody getting on public transport if they are not wearing a face covering or to ask them to put them on; secondly, to ask them to leave the network or put on a face covering if they have got one and they are willing to do so and they are not exempt; thirdly, to issue a fixed penalty notice. The figures that I have got are that 18,500 people were stopped as of Monday or had a conversation with. That figure has now increased from Monday to today and there have been 20,168 interactions - and they were primarily on the buses - to enforce face coverings. A lot of these people, by the way, will put on a face covering when challenged. On fixed penalty notices, as of yesterday, 61 fixed penalty notices have been issued to people for refusing to wearing a face covering when travelling.

Photo of Alison Moore Alison Moore Labour

Thank you, Mr Mayor. I will leave it there, other than to urge you to look at some of the hotspots around the Tube network. Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Mr Mayor.