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London buses to resume front door boarding

The process will be phased back in at the weekend.

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A London bus driver wearing a protective face mask (Dominic Lipinski/AP)

A London bus driver wearing a protective face mask (Dominic Lipinski/AP)

A London bus driver wearing a protective face mask (Dominic Lipinski/AP)

London’s buses are set to resume front door boarding following the introduction of new safety measures aimed at minimising the coronavirus risk to drivers, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

Front door boarding will be reinstated on 124 bus routes from Saturday, with customers required to touch on using their Oyster, contactless or concessionary cards.

The process was abandoned in April amid concerns that 26 London bus workers had died from Covid-19.

But analysis from the University College London has suggested that safety and hygiene improvements made by TfL has made it possible for front door boarding to resume by substantially reducing the risk to drivers of contracting coronavirus from customers.

The safety measures include adding a film layer to screens and sealing off gaps around the screen as a whole, along with a rigorous cleaning regime which sees cabs, handrails and other regularly touched areas treated with hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectant.

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Capacity will also be reduced in order to help maintain social distancing (Transport for London)

Capacity will also be reduced in order to help maintain social distancing (Transport for London)

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Capacity will also be reduced in order to help maintain social distancing (Transport for London)

TfL anticipates that all London buses will have returned to front door boarding by mid-June, and will be limiting capacity to ensure compliance with social-distancing guidelines.

Double-decker buses will be able to carry 20 customers while single-decker buses can carry between six and 10 customers.

Drivers will have the discretion to allow more customers on board if they are travelling in households or groups.

Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander said the new measures are essential to protecting the health and safety of transport workers and passengers.

She said: “Scientific advice has confirmed that it is safe for front door boarding to resume on these buses thanks to these improvements.

“Our message to Londoners is clear though – please work from home and travel on foot or bike if you can. Public transport is a precious resource that should be preserved for those who need it.

“But if you absolutely have to travel on our network, wear a face mask, avoid the busiest times and respect the new arrangements to enable everyone to travel safely.”

Bus workers have tragically lost their lives during this pandemic and our determination is to make sure that no other family endures this heartacheUnite officer for London buses John Murphy

The move has also received support from the trade union Unite.

Unite officer for London buses John Murphy said: “Bus workers have tragically lost their lives during this pandemic and our determination is to make sure that no other family endures this heartache.

“Unite has been working closely with experts at UCL, TfL and London bus operators to ensure that the return to front door loading does not adversely affect driver safety.

“Unite will continue to lobby and work with employers and TfL to ensure that all bus workers are full protected at work and that passengers and the wider public are cared for.”

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