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Covid-19 anxiety changing commuter travel habits

Date: 02 July 2020   |   Author: Pete Tullin

Six out of 10 London commuters will change the way they travel when the return to work begins, research by Addison Lee has found, with Covid-19 safety concerns changing transport demand patterns.

In a survey of 1,000 commuters across the capital's 32 boroughs, 56% of commuters who travel into London said that they plan to do their journey to work differently, with many already clear about changes they'll make:

  • 55% plan to change the time of their commute to avoid peak hours
  • 49% plan to use their own vehicle - up from 23% pre-pandemic 
  • 28% plan to complete at least part of their journey on foot
  • 40% plan to use private hire vehicles as part of their journey

The survey suggests that planned changes to the commute stem from a lack of confidence in public transport amid continued safety concerns. Almost 70% of London commuters say that, even with the introduction of face coverings, taking public transport to and from work makes them feel anxious, while 72% say that they will avoid using the tube during their commute unless essential when they return to work. And 70% also say they are concerned at the thought of colleagues using public transport.

In response to the findings, Addison Lee is asking the London Covid-19 Transition Board, co-chaired by Sadiq Khan and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, to make the safe return to work a priority and actively work with all the capital's transport providers on a common set of safety standards.

The company says this will give commuters confidence to return to work using a variety of means of transport that respect social distancing and the capital's environmental needs. In addition to use of face coverings and respecting the recommended social distance, these standards are:

  • Installation of partition screens 
  • Availability of hand sanitiser on transport and at termini
  • Regular deep disinfection of both transport and termini
  • Mandatory regular provision by transport providers of PPE for transport workers

Liam Griffin, Addison Lee CEO, said: "Our research shows a clear shift away from commuting on public transport due to safety concerns. To ensure that all modes of transport can play their part in helping Londoners back to work safely and in a manner that supports the environment, we need a common set of safety standards that give consumers confidence to travel, no matter who the provider is. Addison Lee wants to work with the London COVID-19 Transition Board and other stakeholders to agree this and help our capital back to work."

The proposed safety standards are based on the research findings into what additional safety measures could give London commuters greater peace-of-mind when travelling on all forms of transport in the future. When asked what safety measures would make them feel more confident about travelling to and from work, the survey found:

  • 80% said Private Hire Vehicles should be allowed to install safety screens to protect drivers and passengers 
  • 69% said regular disinfection of public transport 
  • 65% said the enforcement of social distancing 
  • 65% said the installation of partition screens in trains, buses and tubes
  • 62% said readily available hand sanitiser on public transport.