Bus trial to see front doors closed as 14 TfL die

A trial to enable bus boarding only via rear doors is to begin after campaigns from London bus drivers.

The news comes as TfL death toll rises to 14. Not all are bus drivers though a majority are.

This is another area the UK has lagged. Other nations have adopted rear door only boarding. Drivers have also lacked PPE equipment despite the severity of the virus being known three months ago.

It’s hard to think of any area where the UK has led since the emergence of this pandemic. Whether at national or city level, under whatever political party, the country has consistently chased measures taken in other nations. Whether it be lockdowns and closing places with large gatherings weeks after most European nations did so, procuring vital equipment such as ventilators, avoiding lessons from pandemic “war game” scenarios undertaken in previous years, financial assistance to help those losing jobs or measures to protect staff readiness (some nations have already begun paying – in the UK it could be weeks for full time employees and months for the self employed), numerous actions have met dithering and delay.

No country has been perfect but few so slow to act. Only the States and Sweden have lagged as slowly in taking action.

This is despite the danger and severity to economies and health systems being known for months now.

Even this bus measure is only a trial on a couple of routes operating out of Walworth garage. Bus drivers are put at risk daily. Revenue loss is hardly a factor surely? Bus use is hugely down as it is. The handful of single door buses in London, such as the 233 route, could be swapped for small double door buses in most instances as other routes are operating Saturday or Sunday services. If routes are too narrow in places, diversions could be enacted.




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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

11 thoughts on “Bus trial to see front doors closed as 14 TfL die

  • How long is this ‘trial’ supposed to last, I wonder. Another two weeks until all the data is processed, during which time more bus drivers will succumb to the virus? Surely it’s obvious to anyone that no further delay is needed, that no trial is needed, and that drivers should be completely protected without any further discussion.

  • This will not stop cross infection from other drivers and garage staff. Drivers take over vehicles from each other through a shift.

    • Gloves, masks and sanitiser can address those risks to significant degree. Ideally they would have been in place for weeks if not months already

  • Drivers are isolated in the cab and behind plexiglass. Physical distancing in the garage and cleaning is the answer. Further, some drivers are wearing both a mask and gloves whilst others do not see the necessity.

    • The plexiglass is to stop physical assault, not airborne particles that may cross over. A small risk of it happening perhaps but unfair to ask the unprepared to roll the dice with those odds. On the rare occasions I’ve had to use the bus in the last month, I’ve offered the driver a sealed mask and they’ve gratefully accepted. Physical distance and cleaning is indeed the first answer here

      • ‘I’ve offered the driver a sealed mask and they’ve gratefully accepted.’

        The drivers who choose to wear a mask and/or gloves seem to know of a supplier and should share the information with others. There seems to be a choice here.

  • Surely, even if you get on in the middle of a bus, you still have to go to the driver’s cab to touch in with your Oyster card. Or are they installing mid-bus Oyster readers?

  • I keep seeing buses go by with all the windows shut. Government advice to the self isolation is to stay in a room with an OPEN window. Its safer outside because the wind disperses aerosols. I have emailed TFL but cannot understand why all windows haven’t been permenently open for weeks. I hope the holes in the plexiglass have been taped up at the very least. This needs to be enforced from the top, its not fair on individual drivers to make a stand.

  • Some very good points raised here. The main reasons are as stated by Chris L bus drivers often change over at certain points along the route. Not every bus goes back to the garage to change drivers. So cleaning the bus when passengers still on board is very difficult.

    You still have to go to the front of the bus to swipe your oyster card. The boarding through the middle door will only work well on the new routemasters where they have a oyster machine where you can swipe your oyster card located by the middle doors. .

    If we offered free travel for a set peiod then the buses would be full to the rafters with idiots riding on all the buses all day as they can for free just for the sake of it, Which really would not be helpful at all.

    My brother works at a local bus garage he states drivers often leave their cabs with used tissues etc in them. All of which other drivers of garage staff have to get rid off.

    Where he works the private cleaning company contracted to clean the buses etc are certainly not carrying out the advice issued by TFL and the Mayor of London. cutting corners cost lives and this is exactly what is happening not only to bus drivers but to all staff working in bus garages. It is a case of profits before people !!

  • Route 108 are Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaro buses, the same as the 521 that runs between Waterloo and London bridge. You can enter this bus through either the front or ‘middle door’ and there is a reader in the middle of the bus. When the 108 went over to this model, middle door entry was disallowed and the reader deactivated.

  • Being able to board through the front and middle doors would speed up boarding times at bus stops. But fare evasion would go through the roof if this was to be allowed on alllondon bus routes.

    The amount of times I have been a passenger on the 21 bus route when you could board the routemasters through all three sets of doors. The only passengers swiping their oyster cards were those boarding by the front doors.

    TFL really cannot afford to loose any more revenue to fare evasion.

    Better cleaning of buses and protective equipment for all bus drivers and bus garage staff is absolutely essential now and in the future.


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