Boris Johnson's recent announcement that people should start using public transport again is a cause for concern. Although LU says it won't be changing its messaging, which encourages passengers to walk or cycle where possible, workmates on stations and trains are already anecdotally reporting rising passenger levels, which figures show are now reaching 20% of their normal levels, significantly above the 13% that TfL bosses calculated was the maximum capacity we could carry whilst maintaining 2m distancing.
We don't want to be locked down forever, and if infection levels and death rates continue to fall, then of course it's right for lockdown measures to be eased. But they need to be eased safely. The Tube is the ideal incubation environment for disease at the best of times, so far greater care and caution is needed than Johnson is displaying with his reckless back-to-work and back-onto-public-transport pushes.
We can hardly stand outside stations pleading with people not to travel; what we can do is ensure that the safety measures we've fought for remain in place and are strengthened, including queuing systems outside stations to regulate passenger flow; maintaining staff "safe zones", created using tape and barriers, to ensure staff can maintain distancing from passengers in stations; having station staff work from behind glass wherever possible; maintaining revised staffing arrangements and shift patterns to eliminate non-essential duties and maximise distancing; and more.
The situation needs to be kept under dynamic assessment by union safety reps. The bottom line has to be: if we can't work safely, we shouldn't work at all.