Operators hope for commuters to return when Plan B ends

Transport operators have welcomed the end of Plan B restrictions in England, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan has complained that removing the legal requirement to wear face coverings would create inconsistency.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Wednesday that his government is no longer asking people to work from home and will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere once regulations expire next week.

Face coverings are currently required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport in England.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group RDG, which represents rail companies. said it looked forward to welcoming passengers again once restrictions ease.

However, the DGR has offered no commitment to restore services, which are currently operating on emergency schedules with even reduced frequency due to the potential for staff shortages to cause disruption.

The spokesperson said: “To ensure passengers can travel with confidence, we will be monitoring timetables closely, managing services to adapt to changing travel habits and ensuring that rail is an attractive choice.”

The Go-Ahead group, which operates buses and trains across the country, also welcomed the announcement, which it said will “help bring restlessness and vitality back to our cities and towns”.

Mark Anderson, Chief Commercial and Customer Officer, said: “Service levels on our buses and trains are increasing as the absence of colleagues decreases, and we look forward to welcoming more customers again.”

The requirement to wear a face covering on Transport for London services remains unaffected by the announcement.

Mr Khan said: ‘Wearing a face covering is one of the most important and easiest things we can all do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the government should rethink its plans and maintain the legislation in place to make them compulsory on public transport .

“This ensures that the rules are clear and consistent and essentially means that enforcement action can continue to be carried out on our transmission network. Compliance is much higher with legislation than without.

The latest Department for Transport statistics for Britain as a whole show passenger numbers on National Rail are currently at 53% of pre-pandemic levels, with London Underground usage even lower at 46% . Bus usage in the capital is at 71% of usual levels and slightly higher outside London at 72%.

Nationwide weekday car use is at 86% of usual levels, but with commercial vehicle use higher than before the pandemic, overall traffic is now at 91% of pre-COVID levels.

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