Coronavirus: Workers still using Tube during outbreak

Tom Edwards
Transport correspondent, London
@BBCTomEdwardson Twitter

image source, Pete Kenny
image captionCommuters on the Central line pack into a rush hour Tube carriage

There has been a steep decline in travel in the capital, but millions of journeys are still being made in London every day.

Overcrowding on public transport has become and still is a huge issue during this coronavirus pandemic.

Transport for London (TfL) has been trying to emphasise that public transport is only for essential journeys by critical key workers.

Latest journey figures for the Tube and buses do show a decline in use - although there are still instances of overcrowding, especially early in the day.

But there are still lots of trips being made in London.

TfL data from last Friday shows 1.16m trips were still made on buses - compared with 6.49m a year ago.

That's a decrease of 82%.

It was a similar picture on the Tube network, where 240,000 trips were made on Friday.

Compared with 4.2m a year ago it's a 94% drop.

What do the figures show us? There has been a decrease, but there are still a lot of trips being made.

image source, Getty Images
image captionBounds Green was one of many Tube stations forced to shut as TfL cut back services

We know there are 150,000 NHS staff in London so the figures also show it is not just NHS workers using public transport.

The question still remains: what is an essential journey and who is a critical worker?

New messaging and speaker announcements are also trying to encourage people onto off-peak services to reduce the crowding.

Unofficially, I've also been given the latest Tube timetable which will start on Monday.

At the moment the current network plan is not to run the Circle line, but it looks like it is about to be brought back into service.

TfL is also struggling with staff sickness - like many organisations - and on Monday it ran 45% of services according to official records.

image source, PA Media
image captionTransport for London has put up signs across the Underground warning people against non-essential travel

That included gaps between trains on the Victoria Line of 5.59 minutes and gaps of 8.73 and 5.95 minutes on the Central and Jubilee Lines respectively.

The new timetable will see generally a four-minute gap in the central London area, with 15 trains per hour .

Further out you can expect intervals of 10-15 minutes.

It seems TfL is trying to consolidate the timetable.

image source, AFP
image captionThere have been more than 7000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in London

The Circle, District and the Hammersmith and City lines will run as few as five trains an hour.

The Jubilee line will run every four minutes between Stratford and Wembley, while the Northern line will run every four minutes and the Piccadilly line every four to eight minutes.

No-one knows how long these timetables will last with the current levels of sickness, but I have been told there is concern there are not enough staff to cover the new timetable.

TfL has been approached for a comment.

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