Daily public transport journeys in the West Midlands have fallen by 86% since the coronavirus outbreak started.
This drop in journeys by bus, tram and train shows that the vast majority of people are following the advice to stay home and not use public transport unless absolutely essential.
Transport bosses have thanked the vast majority of regular commuters who are staying at home and the hard working staff who have kept the network running for key workers and those collecting essential shopping and medical supplies.
Data for the Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) Swift card, which is used for about a quarter of public transport trips in the region, shows a decline of 86% between the start of March and this week
The largest fall followed the Prime Minister’s lockdown announcement.
But TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is concerned that a small minority of travellers are still making non-essential journeys as usage in Birmingham and the West Midlands remains slightly higher than similar UK cities under coronavirus lockdown. TfWM urges everyone to follow the Government advice and only travel if essential.
The figures are revealed as the region’s largest bus operator National Express West Midlands and West Midlands Metro announced new timetables and reductions in services from Monday, March 30th.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Thank you to everyone who is following the Government’s clear advice and staying at home. This significant reduction in public transport use shows that the vast majority of people across the West Midlands are acting very responsibly in these incredibly challenging and unprecedented times.
“However some people are still travelling unnecessary, and I would urge these people to please listen to the Government advice and protect yourself and others. If we are going to beat Coronavirus then everyone in the West Midlands needs to play their part.
“For those who have to travel on public transport, such as key workers, please remember to socially distance and take appropriate precautions where possible, such as eliminating the use of cash and paying via contactless methods.”
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council added: “We would also like to thank the dedicated staff right across our transport network who are turning up at this difficult time to keep rail, Metro and bus services running throughout the day for our critical workers.
“Regular services are still running to key destinations like hospitals and supermarkets but we would ask people to only use them if absolutely necessary and follow social distance guidelines to protect critical workers and transport staff and stop the further spread of the coronavirus.”
While public transport services have been reduced operators are continuing to run first and last services for key workers.
The following guidance has been issued for people who need to use public transport:
Keeping your distance
· When waiting at stops or stations always stay two meters apart from other passengers and don’t sit next to someone in a shelter. Leave at least a one-seat gap between you and other passengers.
· Do not crowd at the doors when getting on board. Stay back, form a queue, and leave a two-meter gap between you and the person in front.
· Try to use mobile, smartcard or contactless payments to reduce the amount of cash needing to be handled.
· Stay a safe distance from drivers or conductors and don’t sit on the seats behind them.
· Do not sit next to someone else onboard if possible. Most services are quiet and should have plenty of seats.
· While services are being regularly cleaned, limit the surfaces you touch while on board and do not touch your face until you can wash or sanitise your hands.
· If you do cough or sneeze, please catch it in a tissue or the crook of your arm and use hand sanitizer straight away. Dispose of the tissue as soon as possible.
· When leaving the service leave a two-metre gap between you and the person in front. Don’t all get up at once and queue in confined spaces.
Maintaining social distancing and good hygiene practises when using the transport network will help everyone stay safe through this unprecedented time and allow more services, for those that need them most, to continue operating.
For regular updates and links to services visit: https://www.networkwestmidlands.com/plan-your-journey/network-overview/