London's Transport Commissioner Mike Brown on our response to coronavirus
MY heartfelt thanks go to the people of London for acting on the instruction of the Mayor and Government to stay at home and not travel to help fight the spread of coronavirus, save lives and protect our NHS.
We have seen Tube and rail passenger numbers plummet by 92 per cent and by almost 80 per cent on buses. This is enabling the transport network to serve the needs of health and other critical workers across the city.
In the same way as national rail services into London have been reduced, we are also running fewer Tube trains. This is because about 30 per cent of our own drivers, station staff, controllers and maintenance teams are not able to come to work, including those self-isolating or ill with coronavirus. The training involved with these roles takes many months and it is simply not possible to replace them immediately while maintaining a safe service. Our staff keeping the network running are making a heroic effort.
We are running as many trains in the early morning as possible. There has been crowding on some sections of the Tube at these times as London has adapted to our new ways of working. We have dealt with this by making some changes to these morning services, by applying station control measures and by working with 500 British Transport Police officers while also encouraging people to spread their time of travel. We are working with national rail services to ensure we manage crowding hotspots together too.
We have also taken the step to temporarily pause all TfL and Crossrail construction work to reduce the number of construction workers needing to travel into central London. I am extremely grateful for the willing help and support we have received on this from the industry and our supply chain.
We have sent about 13 million emails asking customers to stop travelling. We have used announcements at key stations and posters translated into 13 languages, and pumped out messages on social media and through our website. We have also taken steps to manage the road network differently, lifting the congestion charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone to get health and other workers across central London.
We are processing refunds on season tickets as quickly as we can and have waived the usual £5 redemption fee.
At the same time, we've sought to support the small and medium-sized companies that make up 86 per cent of the businesses on our transport network by giving them 100 per cent rent relief for the next three months. My message remains simple: the threat you pose to London when you make an unnecessary journey is real. No one should be travelling unless you are a critical worker making an absolutely essential journey.
Please don't travel. Help us save lives. Help us protect the NHS.
Mike Brown MVO, London's Transport Commissioner