Car Usage May Spike After Lockdown as No One Wants to Use Public Transport While the Virus is Around

By Shabana Arif on at

A survey of 1,500 people from transport consultants SYSTRA indicates that a large portion of respondents will be abandoning public transport once the lockdown is over, which is the opposite of what the government was pushing been for pre-pandemic.

While the survey is by no means indicative of what will actually happen, given its sample size and the unreliability of polls in general as a metric of anything, the responses revealed a potential drop of 40 per cent in use of buses and tubes when we're all allowed outside again, and a possible 27 per cent drop in rail use. The most obvious reason for this is (I'm guessing) trying to avoid contracting the virus, which isn't going to magically disappear when we exit lockdown.

During his briefing yesterday, the Prime Minister said he'd be presenting a lockdown exit plan next week to get everyone back to work and school, and the economy running again, but added that it would be guided by the data, and there would be a number of caveats that would need to be met before that becomes a reality. One of those is avoiding a second peak, and if everyone just stuffs themselves onto public transport again, as they did before the emergence of COVID-19, it's going to be the perfect breeding ground for exactly that – so no wonder no one wants to use public transport for the foreseeable future. It's shoddy enough at the best of times.

24 per cent of respondents said they plan to work from home more, although that decision will ultimately rest with the their employers, while 67 per cent believe that video conferencing will negate the need for travelling to meetings. I wish. I don't think there's anything that big businesses love more than pointless meetings that overrun that could have been replaced with an A5 sheet of bullet points, and are permeated by the smell of cheap sandwiches and samosas piled sadly on a plate in the corner.

We'll have to see what measure can and will be taken to ensure that public transport is as safe as possible, but unless everyone wears a mask during their commute - as suggested by London Mayor Sadiq Khan - or is forced to use that NHS coronavirus app,  there's not a great deal else that can be done to make them physically safer spaces. [BBC News]

Feature image credit: Unsplash