Do restrictions apply on the use of public transport in Wales? Are leisure journeys allowed or not?

AdamWW

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I have just had it confirmed from my Member of the Senedd that public transport in Wales is still intended to be available only for the short list of essential journeys given by the Welsh Government.

There doesn't appear to be any expectation for this to end any time soon.

So that's official - if you follow government advice, no days out, visiting family, or booking a holiday this summer unless you have access to a car or can walk/bike.

I do understand the limitatations if you have to keep people 2 m apart. I also understand that a family travelling together will take up much less space than the same number of people spaced out at 2 m, and I still find it a little hard to understand why as services open up we still have to have a total ban on leisure travel even on services that have never had the sort of loadings that would cause a problem with people spaced out at 2 m.

It would also be nice if they didn't express this in the form:
"Can I use public transport? Yes - see here for the guidance"
And the guidance says
"Well actually, unless your journey is on this sort list of ones we consider essential, it's no"
 
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Richard Scott

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What are they actually on? They're making Sturgeon look decisive and competent. These services are going to have to start paying soon unless there's some big money tree hidden somewhere? It's not as if this virus is running amok around Wales.
 

AdamWW

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What are they actually on? They're making Sturgeon look decisive and competent. These services are going to have to start paying soon unless there's some big money tree hidden somewhere? It's not as if this virus is running amok around Wales.
There are trains running nearly empty and nowhere close to their current nominal capacity. Surely there must be a way to get some of that used without getting people too close?

Presumably once this is over, if public transport survives they'll be encouraging people to give up the car again. I wonder if that message might be slightly undermined by the apparent lack of concern for those without cars at present?

If they can come across as abandoning all responsibility for such people now, what will prevent them from doing it again?
 

joncombe

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There is also the impact of the public questioning why they are paying (via their taxes) a large subsidy to public transport operators if they are not allowed to actually use it. It's meant to be for all the public (the clue is in the name) not "key workers" only.
 

AdamWW

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There is also the impact of the public questioning why they are paying (via their taxes) a large subsidy to public transport operators if they are not allowed to actually use it. It's meant to be for all the public (the clue is in the name) not "key workers" only.
You could maybe argue that if society didn't benefit from the key workers doing their job, they wouldn't be key workers. So indirectly we do benefit.

I'm not so concerned about public questions as much as how long the government will have the appetite to fund a public transport system that is barely being used. Running at this sort of capacity can't be sustainable.

I can only see two ways forward - increase allowable capacity and soon, or shut down public transport as we know it, with some kind of subsidised demand responsive bus service available strictly only for those who aren't capable of driving or can't afford to (with maybe a transition period to allow people who haven't learnt to drive but could do to get their license and buy a car).

The second option is one that doesn't particularly appeal to me. (And would require some thought as to how to keep things moving in cities that rely on rail to reduce pressure on the roads particularly in the rush hour).
 

Scrotnig

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A huge number of people with disabilities and medical conditions cannot drive because of them.

Once again we are telling them "Sorry - your medical condition / disability doesn't matter, because it's not the deadly killer virus. You'll just have to stay in your house all the time now. Hard luck. Now go away."

Our society is slowly becoming utterly abhorrent.
 

joncombe

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You could maybe argue that if society didn't benefit from the key workers doing their job, they wouldn't be key workers. So indirectly we do benefit.
Maybe but society often benefits from other journeys not just going to work. In any case it might lead to questioning if subsidising public transport for key workers is cost effective given it would likely be much cheaper to shut it down and provide a taxi for these workers given the numbers of them travelling (I'm not advocating that by the way, but I do think it's true)
 

AdamWW

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Maybe but society often benefits from other journeys not just going to work. In any case it might lead to questioning if subsidising public transport for key workers is cost effective given it would likely be much cheaper to shut it down and provide a taxi for these workers given the numbers of them travelling (I'm not advocating that by the way, but I do think it's true)
Indeed. That's a very good point.

I appreciate that there must be a lot occupying the minds of both the government and transport operators, but from my armchair management perspective surely the idea ought to be to get as many people on public transport as possible commensurate with the distancing rules, both to bring in income and let the maximum number of people benefit from all the money going in to keeping them going?

There has to be a better way than this, surely?

National Express seem happy to run coaches around half full (window seats only) and presumably that's legal.

Airlines get away with more, though I suppose they can do a much better job at contact tracing because they know who is on the plane and where they are sitting.
 

AdamWW

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A huge number of people with disabilities and medical conditions cannot drive because of them.

Once again we are telling them "Sorry - your medical condition / disability doesn't matter, because it's not the deadly killer virus. You'll just have to stay in your house all the time now. Hard luck. Now go away."

Our society is slowly becoming utterly abhorrent.
Well I think in general policies aimed at those with health conditions have been aimed at their protection (e.g. balancing risks of deferring cancer treatment with the risk of picking up COVID-19 from hospital visits).

But (rightly or wrongly) I get the impression that the government don't think there is a problem with opening up the country only to those who can drive. "Great news - you can now go on holiday. Just so long as you have a car. (Yes I know we used to tell you that you were doing the right thing by not having a car, but that was so last year").

Clearly it's not the government's fault that public transport has become a health risk. But they don't seem to be showing any sympathy for the impact this is having or much imagination in mitigating it.
 

Richard Scott

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Problem is the Welsh Government perceive public transport to be a bigger health risk in Wales than everywhere else in Europe. As long as it goes against Westminster then they're happy. I maintain they're hellbent on destroying the Welsh Economy just so they can do something different to Westminster. They haven't got a clue.
 

AdamWW

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It is advice, you are correct.
Correct.

But:
1) The operators certainly aren't presenting it as "advice" so it's not obvious to everyone that it shouldn't be enforced. And there's no guarantee that a gung-ho member of staff/security guard/BTP might take it upon themselves to try to enforce it regardless. (And it would be quite nice not to have to against government advice just to have a day out)
2) Given that they are expecting essential travel only, there doesn't seem to be any percieved need to set up a system to try to regulate things (e.g. reservations for longer distance journeys and for shorter trips advice on which trains are likely to use their capacity on people travelling to work, and which should be Ok to use for a trip to the shops without causing any trouble)
 

Furryanimal

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I had this argument with TFW on their twitter feed.
I pointed out that as a non-driver i intended to use their services to visit friends and family i have not seen in three months.
After some discussion they admitted they could not stop anyone using their services but added ‘British Transport Police will be patrolling stations to decide if your journey is essential’.
Anyway i will be using them next week.We are now free to travel anywhere in Wales and even into England.
I refuse to remain at home simply because i do not drive.I am even going to wear a mask on the train even though it makes my glasses steam up! But it will becoming off when i reach my destination.
If our bus services were increased to more normal levels i would use them as it wouldn’t cost me anything but they remain more at Sunday levels and a journey that will take less than an hour would be more like three.
And the friend i am visiting,who used a train into Cardiff last week,insists there will only be a handful of people on them.
 

AdamWW

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I had this argument with TFW on their twitter feed.
I pointed out that as a non-driver i intended to use their services to visit friends and family i have not seen in three months.
After some discussion they admitted they could not stop anyone using their services but added ‘British Transport Police will be patrolling stations to decide if your journey is essential’.
Anyway i will be using them next week.We are now free to travel anywhere in Wales and even into England.
I refuse to remain at home simply because i do not drive.I am even going to wear a mask on the train even though it makes my glasses steam up! But it will becoming off when i reach my destination.
If our bus services were increased to more normal levels i would use them as it wouldn’t cost me anything but they remain more at Sunday levels and a journey that will take less than an hour would be more like three.
And the friend i am visiting,who used a train into Cardiff last week,insists there will only be a handful of people on them.
And there's the problem - even if the BTP don't actually have the power to prevent someone from travelling, they can make life uncomfortable. (Though from what I've read here, it's an empty threat and actually the BTP won't be doing any such thing).

I cannot understand what we are gaining from running near empty trains.

Now OK there's the "if everyone did it" argument but I strongly suspect that trips to Barry Island on a hot Saturday aside, even if you just said "Go for it if you can't travel any other way" we wouldn't suddenly see our trains creaking at the seams with leisure travellers.
 

Furryanimal

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And there's the problem - even if the BTP don't actually have the power to prevent someone from travelling, they can make life uncomfortable. (Though from what I've read here, it's an empty threat and actually the BTP won't be doing any such thing).

I cannot understand what we are gaining from running near empty trains.

Now OK there's the "if everyone did it" argument but I strongly suspect that trips to Barry Island on a hot Saturday aside, even if you just said "Go for it if you can't travel any other way" we wouldn't suddenly see our trains creaking at the seams with leisure travellers.
Strangely i will be going to Barry Island,as that is where my friend lives,and we are meeting on the promenade.But i’m not risking the weekend which is forecast to be rather nice!
 

squizzler

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And still this advice not to use the train and bus continues. Perhaps Welsh Government would care to explain why South Korea and Singapore, where almost everybody uses the transport system, have handled the pandemic miles better than motoring centric Wales.
 

AdamWW

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And still this advice not to use the train and bus continues. Perhaps Welsh Government would care to explain why South Korea and Singapore, where almost everybody uses the transport system, have handled the pandemic miles better than motoring centric Wales.
The obvious answer, I suppose, is that they learnt from SARS rather than starting out trying to treat it as a new form of flu and then having to make it up as they went along.
 

sftfan1909

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I have passed through Cardiff a few times recently and every time the 'security' staff have just milled around, I haven't been asked any questions at all. They seem to be there mostly to keep an eye on people social distancing rather than enforcing any rules regarding essential travel.
 

yorkie

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I have just had it confirmed from my Member of the Senedd that public transport in Wales is still intended to be available only for the short list of essential journeys given by the Welsh Government.

There doesn't appear to be any expectation for this to end any time soon.

So that's official - if you follow government advice, no days out, visiting family, or booking a holiday this summer unless you have access to a car or can walk/bike.

I do understand the limitatations if you have to keep people 2 m apart. I also understand that a family travelling together will take up much less space than the same number of people spaced out at 2 m, and I still find it a little hard to understand why as services open up we still have to have a total ban on leisure travel even on services that have never had the sort of loadings that would cause a problem with people spaced out at 2 m.

It would also be nice if they didn't express this in the form:
"Can I use public transport? Yes - see here for the guidance"
And the guidance says
"Well actually, unless your journey is on this sort list of ones we consider essential, it's no"
To be clear, it would undoubtedly be unlawful for public transport users to have additional restrictions imposed on them, compared to owners of private vehicles. It would be a very clear case of discrimination.

If anyone does not have access to a car, and is prevented from making a journey that is a lawful journey for which a car owner would be legally entitled to make, this would be very clear-cut.

The problem is that if TfW are merely "advising" people and not denying travel, then it's unclear whether discrimination is actually occurring.

Has anyone in Wales written to their MP about this? And likewise in Scotland, if the same is happening there?
 

anthony263

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Yet as a bus driver for new adventure travel ive seen people stick 2 fingers up to this government advice and use the bus to get out.

Had a few teenagers today use the 321 llantwit major to Talbot green service to visit Cowbridge and Pontyclun (to catch the train into Cardiff)
 

Dai Corner

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I agree with previous comments that banning 'non-essential' public transport use discriminates against those who can't drive by reason of age or disability or can't afford or choose not to own a car. The Tories dubbed the 5 mile rule 'the cruel rule' but I'd regard this one to be even crueller.

Since the '5 mile rule' was lifted on Monday I've been using my car to exercise my newly-regained freedom to travel wherever I like for any purpose. However the pubs reopen next Monday and I'd quite like to catch the bus to one so I can enjoy a pint or two.

Anyone in South Wales East wishing to write to an MS might consider Laura Anne Jones. She has recently entered the Senedd following the death of fellow Conservative Mohammed 'Oscar' Asghar. Her first question to the Government was about face coverings on buses and trains.
 

AdamWW

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Yet as a bus driver for new adventure travel ive seen people stick 2 fingers up to this government advice and use the bus to get out.

Had a few teenagers today use the 321 llantwit major to Talbot green service to visit Cowbridge and Pontyclun (to catch the train into Cardiff)
I'm curious.

Are you currently stuck at home going no further than you can walk or cycle unless it's absolutely essential?

Or do you have access to a car so this only affects other people?

If the latter, I'm a bit dissapointed at the way you describe teenagers having the temerity not to put their lives on hold because they don't drive.

The government seems to think you can tell people who have relied on public transport all their lives that for now they should just stay at home, and then expect them to come flooding back when they are told they can.

In reality I think many of those who can will get a car (learning to drive as soon as possible if necessary) and the next time they get told by the government to drive less will metaphorically stick two fingers up at them. And who can blame them? Maybe you would. But I won't.
 

AdamWW

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To be clear, it would undoubtedly be unlawful for public transport users to have additional restrictions imposed on them, compared to owners of private vehicles. It would be a very clear case of discrimination.

If anyone does not have access to a car, and is prevented from making a journey that is a lawful journey for which a car owner would be legally entitled to make, this would be very clear-cut.

The problem is that if TfW are merely "advising" people and not denying travel, then it's unclear whether discrimination is actually occurring.

Has anyone in Wales written to their MP about this? And likewise in Scotland, if the same is happening there?
It should be to their Member of the Senedd since transport is devolved.

And yes.
 

anthony263

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I'm curious.

Are you currently stuck at home going no further than you can walk or cycle unless it's absolutely essential?

Or do you have access to a car so this only affects other people?

If the latter, I'm a bit dissapointed at the way you describe teenagers having the temerity not to put their lives on hold because they don't drive.

The government seems to think you can tell people who have relied on public transport all their lives that for now they should just stay at home, and then expect them to come flooding back when they are told they can.

In reality I think many of those who can will get a car (learning to drive as soon as possible if necessary) and the next time they get told by the government to drive less will metaphorically stick two fingers up at them. And who can blame them? Maybe you would. But I won't.
I meant its nice to see people are starting to come back to buses. Personally think the government is getting its statements wrong and people should be allowed to go out and use public transport i can't see it being an more dangerous than going shopping

To answer your question I do have a car but rarely use use it instead using the train and my local bus service even now
 

AdamWW

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I meant its nice to see people are starting to come back to buses. Personally think the government is getting its statements wrong and people should be allowed to go out and use public transport i can't see it being an more dangerous than going shopping

To answer your question I do have a car but rarely use use it instead using the train and my local bus service even now
Apologies for getting the wrong end of the stick.

I'm just getting a bit fed up with people who almost certainly aren't affected themselves expecting those without cars to be quite happy to stay at home for the forseeable future. (While their taxes are used to fund - for now - near empty buses and trains trundling round Wales because there doesn't seem to be any attempt to work out a way that we can get those empty seats filled without overwhelming the limited capacity currently imposed).
 

Belperpete

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2m social distancing is still a requirement in Wales. While I am firmly of the opinion that social distancing cannot go on forever, we clearly still have too many infections to abandon it just now. Going back to buses and trains crowded as they were pre-covid would be madness at present. I know that there are a vocal minority that believes we should just get back to normal life, and let the virus do its worst, but fortunately that is not the majority view.

If the Welsh Govt just gave the green light for everyone to use public transport like they did pre-covid, then the crowding levels would almost certainly lead to increase in infection rates, and essential workers could get crowded out. The current system where people are discouraged from using public transport means that those who act responsibly and stick to the guidance aren't travelling, but there is no penalty for those who choose to ignore it. As a non-car owner, I feel that this is clearly unfair, discriminating against those without cars and who choose to do their public duty. But sometimes you just have to accept that life is not fair.

And let's be clear, this is purely guidance: people are being asked to act responsibly and do their public duty to reduce the rate of infections.

What is the alternative, to ensure that public transport usage doesn't go back to crowding levels that would allow the virus to spread rapidly again?

My local bus company is this week consulting on introducing pre-booking, which will be very restrictive. If too many people ignore the guidance, I suspect that this may become a reality.
 

Dai Corner

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2m social distancing is still a requirement in Wales. While I am firmly of the opinion that social distancing cannot go on forever, we clearly still have too many infections to abandon it just now. Going back to buses and trains crowded as they were pre-covid would be madness at present. I know that there are a vocal minority that believes we should just get back to normal life, and let the virus do its worst, but fortunately that is not the majority view.

If the Welsh Govt just gave the green light for everyone to use public transport like they did pre-covid, then the crowding levels would almost certainly lead to increase in infection rates, and essential workers could get crowded out. The current system where people are discouraged from using public transport means that those who act responsibly and stick to the guidance aren't travelling, but there is no penalty for those who choose to ignore it. As a non-car owner, I feel that this is clearly unfair, discriminating against those without cars and who choose to do their public duty. But sometimes you just have to accept that life is not fair.

And let's be clear, this is purely guidance: people are being asked to act responsibly and do their public duty to reduce the rate of infections.

What is the alternative, to ensure that public transport usage doesn't go back to crowding levels that would allow the virus to spread rapidly again?

My local bus company is this week consulting on introducing pre-booking, which will be very restrictive. If too many people ignore the guidance, I suspect that this may become a reality.

The alternative would be to compensate bus operators for having to follow the Welsh Government's social distancing laws/advice/ guidelines so they can afford to run a near-normal timetable and people who'd like to travel but feel too uncomfortable about spreading the virus will start doing so again.

Here in Gwent there are no more than one or two new infections a day, which may well be in care homes or other closed settings. I feel pretty safe when out and about.
 

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