Picture courtesy of Pikrepo (CC0 1.0)
Covid-19 and its fallouts:
TfL: 40 tube stations closed, no night tube, congestion and pollution charges suspended – and free bike rentals for NHS staff
Following the government’s advice to stop non-essential social contact, Transport for London announced on Thursday 19 March that the night tube and night overground services would close from Friday 20 March, as well as 40 smaller tube stations and the special Waterloo & City Line.
In addition, during this weekend Circle Line has been totally closed while District, Hammersmith & City, and Piccadilly has been running a reduced service – all part of the effort to discourage travellers from unnecessary tube trips.
From Monday, all lines (except Waterloo & City) should be running as normal again, but TfL intends to gradually reduce the frequency while ensuring that critical workers can get to where they need to and making sure that remaining services are not overcrowded. The aim is to run tube trains in Zone 1 every four minutes, but that may be reduced further. Reduced frequency will also apply for London Overground, TfL Rail, the DLR and London Trams.
Among the 40 closed tube stations are Bayswater, Holland Park, Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Hyde Park Corner and Gloucester Road.
Buses to run Saturday service all week
From Monday 23 March, all buses will run a frequency similar to that of Saturdays. Night buses will continue as normal, to provide critical workers with a reliable night time option as the tube network will be closed at night.
Congestion and pollution charges suspended
On Friday 20 March, TfL also announced that all user charge schemes (the Congestion Charge, ULEZ and Low Emission Zone) will be temporarily suspended from Monday 23 March until further notice. According to a press release from TfL, Sadiq Khan has asked for this to help critical workers, particularly those in the NHS, to travel round London as easily as possible when the tube network will have a reduced service. The removal of the charge schemes will also support the effort to keep supermarkets fully stocked.
However, in a statement, Sadiq Khan said: “People should not be travelling, by any means, unless they really have to. London’s roads should now only be used for essential journeys. This is not an invitation to take to your cars. To save lives we need the roads clear for ambulances, doctors, nurses and other critical workers. This is an unprecedented time and I know Londoners are doing everything they can to look after each other. I continue to urge all Londoners to follow the advice of public health authorities and not leave their homes unless it is absolutely essential.”
Free bike rentals for NHS staff
To further support vital hospital staff getting into work, NHS workers will be given a code that waives the 24 hour access fee for Santander Cycles, meaning any journey under 30 minutes is free. In addition to free access, docking stations near hospitals will be prioritised to ensure there is a regular supply of bikes for medical staff to use.
TfL gives NHS staff free rental of bikes for all trips under 30 minutes and will try to keep the bike stations around hospitals as well stocked as possible. Photo by Nick-D on Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)
First published 22/03/2020