Public transport companies in the North East have expressed their concerns that Coronavirus could set public transport back decades.
Despite plans to ease lockdown, social distancing restrictions will mean buses and the Tyne and Wear Metro will be restricted to barely a quarter of their pre-pandemic capacity. It also raises concerns about the wider impact it could have on traffic, congestion and pollution.
“We will be able to encourage more people to walk or cycle to their destinations, but even if we are successful in that it will only take part of the load,” said Tobyn Hughes, Managing Director of Transport North East and Metro operator Nexus.
“If demand returns there will be a large number of people who used to use public transport and that could lead to a surge in road trips. It’s a key issue for the area to manage, we need to manage our transport networks as an integrated whole. What we don’t want to do is go back several decades and have the area even more congested by polluting transport than it was before.”
About 300,000 people who would usually travel by public transport every day are expected to forgo buses and Metros, mostly in favour of walking, cycling, a switch to home working or a general reluctance to travel. But a further 100,000 are expected to switch to cars, with town and city centres affected to be ‘disproportionately’ affected.