The delay in ending restrictions was received with dismay across the country. Speaking about potential consequences of the decision, Tom Quay, CEO of UK public transport app and website provider Passenger, said: “The Government’s decision to keep face mask rules on public transport past 21 June could have a serious impact on people’s confidence in public transport, and the success of the National Bus Strategy. I think it’s fair to say we all have a natural reaction to areas where face masks are mandatory, with an assumption that such areas may post more risks to people’s health compared to areas where face masks aren’t needed. By keeping face mask restrictions on public transport, people may automatically assume that it’s not Covid-safe.
“On the contrary, many operators have gone above and beyond to make their buses comply with strict health and safety standards. Operators are doing everything they can to inform passengers of these measures, but it’s likely many people will need more convincing. If you look at the wider picture in terms of what this could mean, everything has a knock-on effect. If restrictions continue to be eased to allow more businesses to open or extend their hours, more people will be travelling to those businesses – especially as the holiday season approaches and staycation volumes increase. This means more vehicles will be on the road, and congestion and pollution levels will skyrocket. Not only is this bad news for the environment, but it’ll also cause a severe amount of aggravation to people’s journeys.
“People deserve to enjoy travelling again after so many months of being in lockdown, so we need to do everything we can to make public transport more appealing. Supporting public transport will inspire a more positive return to travelling again, and I hope more will be done to counter the likely negative impact of the government’s latest announcement on public transport – and soon!”