People and businesses across Greater Manchester are being urged to keep doing their bit, as the government eases coronavirus restrictions.
With demand on public transport forecast to increase significantly and social distancing still in place, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is continuing to work with operators to keep passengers safe when travelling, including running as many services as possible.
On Monday (12 April), England will move to Step 2 of the government’s four-step roadmap for easing the restrictions. That means the re-opening of non-essential shops, gyms, hairdressers and outdoor attractions, while hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people food and drinks outside.
Metrolink will continue to operate all available trams – as it has done throughout the pandemic – with as many ‘doubles’ as possible running across the network, including the first of the 27 new trams that are being delivered over the coming months.
Bus and train operators are also set to increase capacity by providing more services across the city-region. This will be kept under review as part of a flexible approach to managing demand over the coming weeks and months.
As more people start to use public transport, passengers are being encouraged to travel at quieter times of the day if they can (between 10am and 3pm or after 6pm). Those able to work from home should continue to do so.
TfGM Customer Director, Stephen Rhodes, said: “As the government cautiously eases their restrictions it’s vital that we continue to minimise our journeys and don’t lose focus on safety, which remains paramount.
“If you do need to use public transport, you can do so in confidence as a lot of work has gone into ensuring services are as safe as possible, but please remember to wear a face covering unless exempt.
“The further lifting of restrictions is dependent on us all continuing to do our bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus, so please look after yourself and continue to encourage your friends and family to travel safely.”
Residents are also being urged to consider cycling or walking if they can, especially for short trips. The region currently has 108 cycling and walking projects on its books, worth a total value of over £500m and is delivering the UK’s largest cycling and walking network, with 55 miles of safe new routes being delivered this year.
Stephen Rhodes added: “With the arrival of warmer weather, it could be a good time to think about more sustainable ways to travel, including cycling and walking.
“I know a lot of people are already doing this as 900,000 trips by bike and 6.3 million journeys on foot are taking place across the region every week, so if you have been thinking about getting in the saddle or putting your best foot forward, now could be the time.
“It’s healthy, safe, sustainable, low cost and easy to start – and if you give it a go you will be playing an important role in helping Greater Manchester’s recovery, reducing the load on public transport, which has reduced capacity due to social distancing, and highways and helping to tackle congestion and air pollution.”
TfGM and other transport operators have worked hard during the pandemic to introduce measures to help keep passengers who use public transport safe:
- Hand sanitiser dispensers have been installed at bus stations and on buses, at interchanges and on the busiest Metrolink stops.
- Commonly touched surfaces including handles, rails, buttons and doors are being disinfected and cleaned regularly.
- Measures have been introduced to support social distancing.
- People with hidden disabilities are being supported to give them the confidence to travel safely.
- Police and TravelSafe officers regularly patrol the public transport network to promote safe travel and engage with passengers about coronavirus rules and guidance.
- A range of tickets and passes are available to help people travel more flexibly.
It’s important that passengers also play their part by remembering to wear a face covering, including at transport hubs and interchanges, and in taxis and private hire vehicles, unless exempt. They should also:
- Keep their distance from other passengers where possible.
- Clean their hands frequently and carry hand sanitiser.
- Use contactless payment if they can.