Five London bus workers have died after contracting coronavirus.
Current safety measures include deep-cleaning vehicles, erecting screens around the driver, providing hand sanitiser and blocking off the seats closest to the driver.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he will continue to make enhancements across public transport in London to ensure there are even higher levels of protection.
“My thoughts are with their friends and families at this awful time,” he said. “I have been clear that our incredible public transport staff, on the buses, tubes, trams and trains, are critical workers, making a heroic effort to allow our NHS staff to save more lives.
“But we all need to play our part too and that means fewer Londoners using the public transport network. Please follow the rules. Stay at home and do not use public transport unless it is absolutely unavoidable.”
Gareth Powell, TfL's managing director for surface transport, said they had been offering the bus companies for whom the drivers worked support during the pandemic. He said: “The safety of our staff and customers is our absolute priority and we have been working closely with the bus companies, the mayor and Unite to implement a range of changes and improvements to keep the bus network and garages safe for those operating and using it, in accordance with Public Health England advice.”
Unite regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh said: “Each of these deaths is a terrible tragedy and the thoughts of everyone at Unite goes to the families of the bus workers who have died of coronavirus. Unite will assist the families of our members in every possible way during this terrible time.
“Unite has been working continuously with Transport for London (TfL) and the operators to ensure the safety of drivers and others in the industry who are performing a heroic job in getting NHS and care workers to their places of work. These measures include deep cleaning of buses, additional cleaning of touch points, the sealing of screens around the driver, the provision of hand sanitizer for all and placing the passenger seating closest to the driver out of bounds.
“I have been in direct contact with the Mayor of London who shares our view that bus drivers must be fully protected. My officers are holding daily meetings with TfL, exploring further safety improvements and we are absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to make the driving of buses safe during this unprecedented crisis.
“We are also calling on the government to make provisions for transport workers in terms of personal protective equipment (PPE). If any driver has safety concerns, then it is imperative that they inform their employer and Unite representative immediately. The union will immediately act on all such concerns.”
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