Concern that decision in the UK to insist on mask wearing could be have a negative effect on Public Transport

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Concern has been expressed that decision in the UK to insist on mask wearing could be have a negative effect on Public Transport, according to Tom Quay, CEO of UK public transport app and website provider, Passenger in responding to the latest UK Government roadmap announcement and its impact on the public transport industry. “The Government’s decision to keep face mask rules on public transport past 21st June could have a serious impact on people’s confidence in public transport, and the success of the National Bus Strategy. 

“I think it’s fair to say we all have a natural reaction to areas where face masks are mandatory, with an assumption that such areas may post more risks to people’s health compared to areas where face masks aren’t needed. By keeping face mask restrictions on public transport, people may automatically assume that it’s not COVID-safe. On the contrary, many operators have gone above and beyond to make their buses comply with strict health and safety standards. Operators are doing everything they can to inform passengers of these measures, but it’s likely many people will need more convincing. 

“If you look at the wider picture in terms of what this could mean, everything has a knock-on effect. If restrictions continue to be eased to allow more businesses to open or extend their hours, more people will be travelling to those businesses – especially as the holiday season approaches and staycation volumes increase. This means more vehicles will be on the road, and congestion and pollution levels will skyrocket. Not only is this bad news for the environment, but it’ll also cause a severe amount of aggravation to people’s journeys.

“People deserve to enjoy travelling again after so many months of being in lockdown, so we need to do everything we can to make public transport more appealing. Supporting public transport will inspire a more positive return to travelling again, and I hope more will be done to counter the likely negative impact of the Gover latest announcement on public transport – and soon!”

Tom Quay commented on key tactics to convince more people to be more eco-friendly as National Clean Air Day (17th June) approaches. “Another environmental day is upon us, providing another opportunity to boost awareness of planet-saving initiatives. Many campaigns come hand-in-hand with shocking stats about our current impact on the environment. However, is highlighting pollution levels really enough to get through to people?

“The Government released a study a few weeks ago showing the 100 most polluted areas in the UK. News articles highlighted the average concentration of PM2.5 pollution particles, detailing how many areas were above the World Health Organisation limit of ten. Highlighting towns was helpful, but the technical jargon is likely to have still baffled some. For me, ‘shock’ tactics are only truly shocking if people can relate to them. For example, noting the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a 15km car journey is one thing, but equating it to the number of cups of tea you can make – 1,100 cups in this instance – is far more relatable.* This is what we’ve done with our Premium app, so users can see how much impact they’re actually having in real-life terms when they take the bus.

“In addition to ‘shock’ tactics, we need to show people how more eco-friendly practices aren’t an added inconvenience. The Centre for Cities think tank recently suggested that a five-day office week could be the norm again within two years. The added inconvenience of having to travel to work means people will want to take the easiest route possible – aka, their cars in most cases. 

“This is why we need to make public transport as easy a solution as simply jumping in the car, whether it’s operators adopting more convenient journey planning and ticketing systems, or the government investing more in public transport to improve bus frequency and add more routes. Changes won’t happen overnight, but we need to do everything we can to convert people to an eco-friendlier lifestyle – and understanding their main decision drivers is key to this.”

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