London bus drivers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, have been advised to stop driving if their bus becomes overcrowded, in order to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

Following the high number of bus drivers who died of Covid-19 and to prevent transmission among passengers, Transport for London (TfL), the transport regulator in the capital, last year set strict limits on how many passengers a bus should carry to ensure that social distancing was maintained.

Maximum loading

A maximum of 30 passengers can ride on a double decker bus and the maximum capacity for a single decker is 11 or 14 depending on its size. In addition, standing is not allowed on buses. All maximum loads are clearly marked on buses.

Unite has consistently raised concerns that the maximum loading rules along with mask wearing have not been properly enforced.

No rules for schoolchildren

A further complication and concern is that when schools returned in September, drivers were told that the maximum load rules did not apply when collecting schoolchildren.

With schools due to begin to return next Monday (March 8), drivers are highly concerned that overcrowding will dramatically increase, risking their health and that of all the passengers on the bus. Especially as it appears that new variants of Covid-19 spread more easily among children.

Under the advice issued to Unite’s 20,000 plus bus drivers, when the bus reaches capacity, the driver will remain in their cab and contact their controller and the bus will remain stationary until the matter is resolved.

Decisive action

Unite lead officer for London buses John Murphy said: “Today Unite is taking decisive action to prevent the unnecessary transmission of Covid-19 on London’s buses.

“The rules on maximum capacity are there for a reason and are supported by scientific research.

“Flouting the overcrowding rules will inevitably lead to an increase in transmission of Covid-19 and risks the health and wellbeing of the driver, passengers and the general public.

“There is no logic to having different rules for school children. Travel on London buses must be safe for everyone at all times.

“Taking a stand and refusing to continue on a route until buses are not overcrowded will inevitably cause disruption and delays but it will improve safety and save lives.

 “It is the responsibility of those who run Transport for London to introduce additional measures to ensure the safety of all passengers.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.