Socialist Worker

Transport services increase, alight here for intensive care

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2705

Bow Road Tube station in east London closed at the beginning of the lockdown

Bow Road Tube station in east London closed at the beginning of the lockdown


The Tory drive to reopen the economy has forced droves of people into dangerous buses and trains.

Bosses are pushing for services to be increased. From this week timetables are ­running at about 70 percent of normal regularity—up from 50 percent.

The government has asked transport bosses to remove or block off seats to encourage social distancing. But it’s up to each company to decide how to implement these guidelines. 

For instance, the London North Eastern Railway ­network is only allowing people on board if they hold a seat reservation. 

Others, such as Avanti, say that people may not be able to travel on the service they want to. 

The company is ­attempting to keep passenger numbers at around a quarter of the normal figure. 

The RMT union has called for a compulsory two metre distance between passengers, and the mandatory ­wearing of face masks, which are ­provided for free. 

General secretary Mick Cash said the Tories’ approach was “baffling”. “The government are ­telling the public to observe two metre social distancing in open spaces outdoors but not enforce two metre social distancing on trains,” he said. 

“The confined spaces mean there is a greater risk of infection.”

Services have been ­limited for two months because the lockdown caused most people to stay at home. 

Collapsed 

Transport for London (TfL) reported that demand has collapsed by as much as 90 percent. TfL says that transport services in the capital can only take 15 percent of their normal capacity. 

But how will the ­recommendations be applied across the services?

Some stations are using crowd control barriers, while others are seeing an increase in the numbers of British Transport Police patrolling platforms. 

On Monday London ­transport workers reported Tube drivers refusing to work on the Northern and Jubilee lines.

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That was in response to bosses’ attempts to return to normal timetables.

Transport bosses want ordinary people to pay for this crisis. 

But putting fares up doesn’t stop people who need public transport from using it.

It just leaves ordinary people paying larger sums to get to work.

Bosses are desperate to get profits rolling in. And they will see the increase in transport services as a green-light to pressure workers to return.

Transport should be freely available and used by people doing essential work during the pandemic.

The increase in trains and buses is part of the gradual, stealthy end to the lockdown that Johnson hopes will see a return to “business as usual.”


London ticket price hike

Transport for London (TfL) is set to carry out sweeping attacks on the capital’s discounted travel. 

It is planning to axe free travel for under 18s, charge over 60s and disabled people during peak travel time, and raise the congestion charge by 30 percent. 

The congestion charge, which applies to cars travelling through central London, is due to go up to £15 by 22 June. This hits some workers. 

And above-inflation ticket price rises are also expected next January. 

These changes are being brought in after a bailout from the Department of Transport. 

Sadiq Khan, Labour mayor of London, said, “The government is, in effect, making ordinary Londoners pay the cost for doing the right thing on Covid-19.”

Workers should not pay the price for bailing out TfL—which should be run as a public service, not on the basis of generating maximum revenue.


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