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Transport industry urges leaders to ‘get on board’ with key worker travel plan

Mathew Hassell, CEO - Transport2

An alliance of private British transport operators and trade bodies, including Gett and the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT), has today written to the country’s political and civic leaders to offer their support in ensuring London’s key workers can travel to work safely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brought together by Transport2, the group has written on behalf of the private transport industry to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Transport Minister Grant Shapps, and also key executives from Transport for London (TfL), the NHS, and the food and construction sectors.

In the letter, the group, which has already received commitments from multiple industry partners across the transport sector, has pledged its existing fleets to help ease deadly congestion on the London Underground. Through this, the transport industry will offer a safe alternative for key workers, such as NHS frontline staff, food manufacturers, retailers and construction workers, as well as the thousands of volunteers who still need to travel across the capital each day whilst obeying social distancing directives.

Through the letter, the group aims to highlight the availability of coaches, minibuses and taxis, change the shape of public transport provision and engage with key figures, implementing a plan for how the industry can assist during a time of national crisis. So far, the group can call upon a fleet of more than 25,000 vehicles from 1,000 operators across London and the South East – much of which is currently sitting idle – offering safe distance seating for as many as 80,000–100,000 key workers concurrently.

As it stands, almost a third of TfL staff are self-isolating due to COVID-19 according to the latest public statements, causing transport services to be cut and in turn greatly increasing congestion on services that continue to run, compromising the health of the key workers that need to commute to work on the tube. Given that thousands of volunteers are set to join these workers over the coming days, the situation is only set to plunge the public and the NHS into greater crisis if urgent action is not taken.

While the scheme is initially focused on London and the South East, there are plans to expand to other major cities such as Manchester and Birmingham, if government support and business uptake are forthcoming.

Mathew Hassell, founder and CEO of Transport2, said: “In these uncertain times, it has never been more important for us all to join forces and work together to keep the nation moving.

“The UK coach, minibus and taxi industries have thousands of vehicles ready to go now, that can accommodate groups of passengers comfortably while maintaining safe social distancing measures, and we are ready and waiting to help. From school buses to leisure coaches to luxury corporate transport shuttles, the sheer range of vehicles we can collectively bring to bear means that we can be flexible enough to transport whoever needs it, when they need it.”

Duncan Burgess, managing director of Gett, said: “We are proud to be supporting Transport2 in leading the charge to bring our industry, and the nation, together at this crucial time.

“We across the transport industry are eager to help crucial frontline staff – especially the new volunteers – the solutions are there and we have the infrastructure and decades of expertise already in place. We urge those with the power to instigate change to recognise the social good our industry can deliver, and to get on board with the plan.”

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