BRITAIN’S public transport can handle just one in ten commuters when coronavirus lockdown is relaxed, Grant Shapps warned today.
The Transport Secretary said the system “cannot go back to where it left off” once the 2m social distancing rule is factored in to stop the spread of the bug.
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Mr Shapps today announced a £2billion package to “put cycling and walking at the heart of the country’s transport policy” at the No10 daily briefing.
He added: “Even with public transport recovering to full service, once you take into account the two metre social distancing rule there will only be effective capacity for one in 10 passengers.”
Trials on the use of e-scooters on UK roads are also due to be fast-tracked as the government looks to ease congestion on trains when commuters return to work.
Currently, the vehicles, which can reach speeds of up to 15.5mph, are banned on roads and pavements in the UK.
Mr Shapps said getting Britain moving again will be a “gradual process, not a single leap to freedom”.
He added: “The world will seem quite different for some time”.
It comes as:
- Boris Johnson urged Brits to stay home on the hottest day of the year
- Garden centres will reopen as part of the PM’s ‘unlockdown’ master plan
- Brits could be given the legal right to work from home after lockdown
- Tradesmen and cleaners are set to return to work from next week
- All arrivals to Britain will be quarantined for two weeks to stop second peak
The national cycling plan will be published in early June to help double cycling rates and increase walking by 2025 – at a cost of around £250million.
Britain’s roads will see wider pavements and cycle- and bus-only streets in a “once in a generation change to the way people travel”.
The government is encouraging commuters to use bikes as part of Boris Johnson’s “road map” in easing Britain out of lockdown.
Ministers want to take pressure off roads and public transport networks and are urging the public to consider more active ways to travel.
How Brits will get to work once lockdown is lifted while maintaining social distancing is a huge challenge for the government.
Keeping the 2m rule in place on buses, tubes and trains means they will be able to carry fewer passengers.
Commuters also fear having to board packed trains or facing busy roads once more people are able to return to work.
Mr Shapps said “no one should underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead” as he urged Brits not to flood public transport.
He added: “”Preventing overcrowding, which could lead to a second spike and more deaths, will be the responsibility of each and every one of us.
“So please, only travel when you need to, be considerate to others, and help prioritise essential workers.
“Let’s all play our part in ensuring that we’re able to get Britain moving safely again, when that time comes.”
The minister also told how more than 20,000 extra deaths a year in the UK are attributed to pollution as he suggested the new scheme could provide a healthier lifestyle for Brits.
And he also pledged £10million additional funding for car charging points as he pointed out the two biggest-selling car models recently were both electric.
It comes as the death toll in the UK today rose to 31,587 after 346 more people lost their lives to the killer disease.
A further 207 more people died in hospital in England today – pushing the number of deaths to 22,972.
In Scotland today, deaths rose by 36 – bringing the total to 1,847.
Wales has suffered a further nine deaths – with their total now at 1,099.
Sun-seekers flocked to parks and beaches yesterday as the mercury nudged 24.3C on VE Day.
They have been warned not to sunbathe in parks over the weekend or “modest and small” new freedoms could be stopped.
The PM will unveil his plan to take the UK out of lockdown tomorrow – with the reopening of garden centres expected to be among the measures.
Cooped-up Brits will also be allowed to take unlimited exercise under the relaxed rules.
And Environment Secretary George Eustice urged takeaway outlets to reopen, insisting they were never under any obligation to close.
He revealed talks with McDonald’s, KFC and Costa, adding: “A drive-through is made for social distancing.”
Cleaners, tradesmen and nannies are also set to return to work next week under new government guidelines.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the PM would roll out relaxations one by one, very cautiously, starting from Monday.
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But he said the move could be halted and even reversed if the R rate of transmission rose again.
Mr Dowden also said Brits were not getting a green light to abandon lockdown.
But he added: “People should be able to look forward to the weeks and months ahead to know where we are going and the order in which we are doing it.”