London bus travel now free after 20 drivers die from COVID-19

Two passengers wearing masks are seen on a bus in Central London, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 17, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville - RC2B6G9AHCA3

"Public transport is only open for critical workers," says Mayor Sadiq Khan. Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville

Adam Payne
Journalist, Business Insider
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  • Travel on London buses will be free from Monday, April 20, as part of a plan to protect bus drivers from catching the coronavirus.
  • Passengers will be told to board only by the middle doors and to travel for free in order to keep a distance from drivers.
  • 20 London bus drivers have so far lost their lives from the virus.
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan said news of the deaths "breaks my heart".

London's mayor Sadiq Khan has made all bus travel free and told passengers to only board by the middle doors in a bid to protect bus drivers, after 20 of them died from the coronavirus.

Passengers boarding London buses usually have to enter by the front doors and tap-in using a bank card or travel pass, forcing them to come within inches of drivers.

Khan hopes that the new measures, which will come into force on Monday, April 20, will make it easier for drivers and commuters to maintain a safe distance from one another and prevent the further deaths of drivers.

Announcing the decision, Khan said the deaths of 26 London transport workers from COVID-19 "breaks my heart."

"I will continue to do whatever it takes to keep our heroic transport workers as safe as possible," he said in a statement.

He added: "I would like to remind Londoners that you shouldn't be travelling by any mode of transport unless it is absolutely necessary, and public transport is only open for critical workers."

Under current rules, extended by another three weeks on Thursday, British people are barred from using public transport unless they are making an essential journey.

The public are also advised to remain two metres away from one another when outside their homes.

Public transport use has declined by around 90% in London since the national coronavirus lockdown was implemented.

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