I am writing to update you on our transport plans for the return of schools in September.
We are asking schools and parents to encourage children to travel to school by walking, cycling or scooting wherever possible. We are also planning to make important changes to the bus network for those who cannot do so.
From 1 September we’re planning to:
- Add over 230 extra buses to the network to bolster some of the busiest low-frequency routes for schoolchildren to travel on, including adding more vehicles to our existing school bus services
- In addition, designate some existing regular buses as School Services, which would be prioritised for school travel and would operate at full seated capacity, as is permitted by Government guidelines for school bus services. Signs would clearly indicate that these are School Services and they are planned to operate on:
Around half of all buses during school travel times on certain high-frequency routes
All the extra buses we’re adding to lower-frequency routes
All buses on our existing school services
Our School Services would help free up non-school services for other customers. However, journeys for our other customers may take longer during school travel times (generally 07:30 to 09:30 and 14:30 to 16:30) due to these planned changes. We encourage our other customers using the bus network to plan your journey in advance, travel at quiet times and outside of school travel times if you can, and allow more time to complete your journey.
Schoolchildren travelling without adults should travel on the designated school services where these are provided, to help provide space for other customers on regular services. Customers who are not schoolchildren but who need to travel at school travel times are strongly encouraged to use the regular services. Regular services will continue to have lower capacity limits to support social distancing, in line with Government guidelines.
Customers aged 11 and over are required to wear a face covering when using public transport services (including our school services) or stations, or taxi and private hire services, unless they are exempt on health or equality grounds. We advise anyone exempt from wearing a face covering to carry an exemption card. For more details please see https://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/face-coverings. We’re also asking people to carry hand sanitiser and wash their hands before and after they travel.
The planned service changes are proposed to remain in place until at least the end of October, although could be subject to change.
We continually review how our network is operating and every September, as children start at new schools or travel from their new homes back to their old schools, we adjust services as far as possible to ensure they reflect new and changing travel patterns. This September comes, of course, with unique challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. We ask everyone in London to bear with us while these significant planned changes bed down and as we do everything we can to ensure children get to school safely and on time.
You can help us by communicating these changes to your networks as widely as possible. Please regularly check tfl.gov.uk/reopeningeducation for the latest information on our services and safer travel guidance – including a list of routes affected by these proposals.
Please note that there will be no changes to fares and ticketing for children in September. You may be aware that the Government has asked us to temporarily suspend free travel for 11-17 year olds as part of our funding agreement with them. We are discussing the implementation of this with the Government and London’s boroughs and full details, including the effective date of changes, will be widely communicated once finalised.
I hope this information is helpful. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions.