Long term social distancing: Impact on public life & public transport?

Bletchleyite

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The idea that people at every stop should have an equal chance is nonsense. I believe that many bus companies will have to look at introducing pick up only restrictions for the first few miles of routes coming out of town in order that those who need to travel the whole length of the route will be prioritised over those who are either within comfortable walking distance or who could take a different bus that only goes half way and is therefore quieter.
A system of reservations would of course do that very well too! The point was that it would avoid people a stop or two along from a busy stop having no chance (which would be discriminatory because some people couldn't walk that far).

I wonder if I should get coding something! :D Though Stagey could easily just use the Megabus booking system and load other routes onto it.
 
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geoffk

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I believe that many bus companies will have to look at introducing pick up only restrictions for the first few miles of routes coming out of town in order that those who need to travel the whole length of the route will be prioritised over those who are either within comfortable walking distance or who could take a different bus that only goes half way and is therefore quieter.
This happened as a matter of course before deregulation and especially back in the day when large numbers used buses. Out of town buses had minimium fares or "no setting down" restrictions over sections of route where there were frequent alternatives.
 

stevetay3

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Restrict this, Ban That, Stop this ,Ban that, To much more of this and the whole country will be up the creek, then we can just close everything down and isolate for ever.
 

northernchris

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We just can’t go on like this, its just not possible, in the long term there will be no economy left to protect.
That's exactly my concern too. We're only at the beginning of the economic crisis yet it's already a daily occurrence to see thousands of jobs being axed by various firms. What this doesn't take in to account is the impact on firms involved in the supply chain which will likely lead to further redundancies, and places like Derby who are likely to come off bad with the Rolls Royce losses will take many years to recover to pre-Covid levels of employment. There's also the point that the less people in work means less people paying tax which means a weaker public sector.
 

Huntergreed

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That's exactly my concern too. We're only at the beginning of the economic crisis yet it's already a daily occurrence to see thousands of jobs being axed by various firms. What this doesn't take in to account is the impact on firms involved in the supply chain which will likely lead to further redundancies, and places like Derby who are likely to come off bad with the Rolls Royce losses will take many years to recover to pre-Covid levels of employment. There's also the point that the less people in work means less people paying tax which means a weaker public sector.
It's genuinely looking really concerning, in Scotland it doesn't sound like they're sparing much thought for the security and sustainability of the economy as they're hardly planning on opening leisure facilities for a good while yet and I'm genuinely getting concerned that it's just being overlooked, in the end I fear this will cause far, far more unnecessary suffering and even perhaps deaths than Covid ever would have and I really do worry that this is getting entirely overlooked for the short term suppression of the disease.

As an 18 year old. my time in University has been cut short, classes have been cancelled, assessments have been waived, and standards have fallen since the lockdown. If this continues for much longer I fear for my future prospects and employment opportunities if my education continues to be hindered and cut throughout this crisis.

I know this sounds like I'm being extreme but if things don't change soon then I genuinely fear that this is what we may be facing.
 

SuperNova

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That's exactly my concern too. We're only at the beginning of the economic crisis yet it's already a daily occurrence to see thousands of jobs being axed by various firms. What this doesn't take in to account is the impact on firms involved in the supply chain which will likely lead to further redundancies, and places like Derby who are likely to come off bad with the Rolls Royce losses will take many years to recover to pre-Covid levels of employment. There's also the point that the less people in work means less people paying tax which means a weaker public sector.
And what happens if things are relaxed too soon and a second wave completely overruns the NHS? Let's not forget that hundreds of NHS staff have succumb to this virus already.
 

takno

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And what happens if things are relaxed too soon and a second wave completely overruns the NHS? Let's not forget that hundreds of NHS staff have succumb to this virus already.
What if the experience of virtually the entire world suggests that we just panicked about Italy's quite specific problems in the first place, and absolutely everywhere else has managed without running out of critical care capacity? What if the massive cuts in the NHS budget caused by the looming recession dwarf the numbers dead in a second wave anyway? What if all of this lockdown was just a massive devastatingly-costly waste of everybody's time? If you're going to play the what-ifs or maybes game, it's really important that you consider a few more what-ifs and don't just stick with the second-wave waffle
 

stevetay3

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What if the experience of virtually the entire world suggests that we just panicked about Italy's quite specific problems in the first place, and absolutely everywhere else has managed without running out of critical care capacity? What if the massive cuts in the NHS budget caused by the looming recession dwarf the numbers dead in a second wave anyway? What if all of this lockdown was just a massive devastatingly-costly waste of everybody's time? If you're going to play the what-ifs or maybes game, it's really important that you consider a few more what-ifs and don't just stick with the second-wave waffle
Agree spot on,if economy fails the NHS will be history.
 

Bikeman78

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Yes, surprised me too. Usually the 'ban everything I'm not interested in doing' posters are much quicker off the mark.



I hadn't really thought about it before, but since 'lockdown' I have been surprised how many people seem happy to take actions which are far more likely to risk their health than what they are trying to avoid.
Now the government is encouraging us to do it. Don't go on a tube that hasn't had a fatal crash in my lifetime. Ride a bike through the streets of London amongst all the buses and HGVs. What could possibly go wrong? I love cycling. Don't fancy doing it in London.
 

Bikeman78

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I've just seen a small bus with 3 passengers, all over 60s, sitting one behind the other in the front 3 left hand rows. That's a fairly normal load at present.

Curiously this is an outer suburbs link route. The normal load before COVID would be 3 or 4 pensioners. It's the only local bus route I see being used at present, double deckers on routes to the city centre aren't carrying more than an occasional 1 or 2 out here in the suburbs. Trains continue to be deserted.
I've seen several Cardiff Buses literally empty. Even on the normally busy routes. They lost £800,000 last year with full buses. Not looking good.
 

Bikeman78

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Of course it is. Look at a place like London Bridge. Vast numbers of people change trains there. Even 25% of normal traffic is a huge amount. Every person changing trains will have to have a reservation on the service by which they arrive and the one on which they depart. If you've ever stood on London Bridge station barely an hour (usually much less) goes by without some services being disrupted and running late. So what do people do who arrive from Sussex, want to change onto Thameslink (for which they have a reservation) and their incoming service is late? They miss their connection. What do they do then (they have no reservations to go anywhere else until they go home at 5pm)? Leave the station and get a taxi back to Hastings? It's fine on inter-city services that run once and hour and stop every 50 miles. It's totally impossible on commuter services. Like I said, you either run public transport or you don't.
That's before you even consider what happens when Thameslink goes in to meltdown. Which it has done in the past and will do in the future. Imagine what Farringdon will look like after nothing has moved for an hour.
 

Enthusiast

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I also hope common sense will be applied to (say) the last bus of the day.
I wouldn't count on it. Common sense seems a little thin on the ground with much of the legislation and guidance.
There is an answer to this that will give people at any stop equal chance of getting on a given bus service.
Yes in many instances it will give everybody exactly the same chance - none whatsoever. Before we examine that, when a passenger makes his reservation to get on, does he have to state where he will get off? Will bus companies be able to develop software sufficiently sophisticated to handle this? Supposing the said passenger decides to stay on for a few more stops. Will there be somebody monitoring the extent of his reservation and throw him off if he attempts to override?

But back to the "equal chance". I occasionally use a bus which runs from Watlington to Oxford. It usually runs every hour (but is running every two hours at present). End to end takes about 55 mins. I get on about twenty minutes from Watlington. By then most buses are usually about 70% full. By the time it reaches the outskirts of Oxford they are near enough full. So, we get to the "socially distanced" version where capacity is, at best, 25% of normal (which will still be nowhere near enough to enable two-metre distancing, but no matter). So long before it reaches the village where I board it will be "full". In fact it will probably be full upon leaving Watlington. This means that everybody beyond there or very soon after will have absolutely no chance of joining the one and only bus that takes them into the City.

As I keep saying, you either run public transport properly at full capacity or you may as well not run it at all. If it doesn't run, the economy will never restart, the country's finances will collapse entirely and people catching a virus which, for the vast majority, will produce mild symptoms, will be the very least of our worries. Last month the government borrowed one and a half times as much as it had forecast for the entire year. I don't think it's been emphasised just how serious this is and it cannot go on. Fannying about making bookings to get on a local bus and sitting two seats apart when you can't get more than a couple of feet away from a passenger passing down the aisle is just plain ridiculous and somebody needs to get a grip on what is becoming a rapidly deteriorating economy.
 

northernchris

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It's genuinely looking really concerning, in Scotland it doesn't sound like they're sparing much thought for the security and sustainability of the economy as they're hardly planning on opening leisure facilities for a good while yet and I'm genuinely getting concerned that it's just being overlooked, in the end I fear this will cause far, far more unnecessary suffering and even perhaps deaths than Covid ever would have and I really do worry that this is getting entirely overlooked for the short term suppression of the disease.
There does seem to be too much focus on the virus and everything else gets sidelined. It's really concerning the reduction in cancer screening, something which has the potential to destroy many more lives going forwards if not detected in time. The NHS are going to struggle to clear the backlog of postponed operations and the travel and tourism sector is pretty much written off for 2020 so completely agree the impact of these will likely cause more suffering than the virus


And what happens if things are relaxed too soon and a second wave completely overruns the NHS? Let's not forget that hundreds of NHS staff have succumb to this virus already.
I wasn't suggesting lifting restrictions immediately, but I do think there has to be more focus on the long term impact, both in terms of the economy and the mental and physical wellbeing of the nation
 

Calum1

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its going to be a fine balance between suppression/controlling the virus, starting the economy again. One thing i can see coming soon is people and their mental health taking a turn for the worse which for some people will take a long time to recover from. normal circumstances i can go see a friend have a drink a bitch and a hug and feel better whereas now we don't have that option so people will be struggling to deal with things alone.
 

NorthOxonian

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its going to be a fine balance between suppression/controlling the virus, starting the economy again. One thing i can see coming soon is people and their mental health taking a turn for the worse which for some people will take a long time to recover from. normal circumstances i can go see a friend have a drink a bitch and a hug and feel better whereas now we don't have that option so people will be struggling to deal with things alone.
Unfortunately, for a lot of people, we've already hit that point.

I was reading that a local mental health charity have seen calls to their hotline triple since the start of the crisis. I imagine that this is replicated across the country, and this is something that's only going to get worse as time goes on.
 

MikeWM

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Popped into Ely station this evening as I was passing after a walk in the country, first time I've been on the station since late evening March 23rd... Observations:

- They've put a one-way system in - in via the ticket office, out via by the bike racks. To be fair, that's not a major inconvenience.

- The ticket office had markings on the floor for 2m distancing. It made it very obvious - if it wasn't already - that 2m is never going to be practical once travel picks up again. With 2m distancing, the capacity of the ticket office is well below the number of people often seen in there, especially on times like late morning on a weekend.

- A KGX -> KLN pulled in during the brief period I was there. I didn't see the loading of the train, but two people got on and one got off. (None of them were wearing masks). Not sure how many I would expect to be getting off on a 'normal' day at that time, but I'd guess 30-40. The one person who did get off then completely ignored the arrows all over the platform and left the station by the ticket office :)

- There didn't seem to be any staff obviously present (though I expect there were some in the office on platform 1). No-one was on the platform to see the KLN train off, which I don't think I've ever seen happen at Ely before.


The main conclusion, as if I didn't know it already, is that 2m distancing just isn't going to work for much longer, even if were desirable for it to be so.

(On a related note, people on the street are seeming far less bothered, on average, about keeping a huge distance away when passing, than even a week ago. One (young-ish) man walked by me so near that they almost brushed my shoulder when they passed! Normally that would have annoyed me (I do like my personal space) but in this case it cheered me up immensely :)
 

nlogax

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Yep, seems fair to say that full exit from the lockdown will come from the general population deciding that it's had enough, not from the relaxation of official rules.

My guess is that in order to appear as they're still in control, UK governments will then hurry to relax or abandon the rules in response to the population, not the infection rates.
 
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underbank

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There does seem to be too much focus on the virus and everything else gets sidelined. It's really concerning the reduction in cancer screening, something which has the potential to destroy many more lives going forwards if not detected in time. The NHS are going to struggle to clear the backlog of postponed operations and the travel and tourism sector is pretty much written off for 2020 so completely agree the impact of these will likely cause more suffering than the virus
It's not just cancer screening that's been cancelled - it's cancer treatment too. Our oncology dept just closed down. Those, like my OH, in the middle of treatment back in March, were just abandoned. It's only this last week that the consultant has finally got in touch to arrange it to be started again next month. OH had been ringing every week to chase for info, but promised call backs never materialised.
 

Bantamzen

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It's not just cancer screening that's been cancelled - it's cancer treatment too. Our oncology dept just closed down. Those, like my OH, in the middle of treatment back in March, were just abandoned. It's only this last week that the consultant has finally got in touch to arrange it to be started again next month. OH had been ringing every week to chase for info, but promised call backs never materialised.
That is simply appalling, I had the horrible feeling that this kind of thing might be happening but to read that makes me sad and angry in equal measures. Fingers crossed for your OH that the treatment is back up and running as swiftly as possible and that they beat the cancer.

What this serves to highlight though as @northernchris says is that we have literally taken our collective eye off the ball because of the hysteria whipped up by government and the media. I am already worried about the economic impact and just how the hell we are going to pay for it, but the social, physical and mental health costs that we will doubtless suffer could be even more damaging.
 

111-111-1

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A system of reservations would of course do that very well too! The point was that it would avoid people a stop or two along from a busy stop having no chance (which would be discriminatory because some people couldn't walk that far).

I wonder if I should get coding something! :D Though Stagey could easily just use the Megabus booking system and load other routes onto it.
Well your obsession with compulsory reservation might work on a bus. 1 way in 1 driver to check reserve no reserve no get on bus. But on train............................
 

Huntergreed

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Well your obsession with compulsory reservation might work on a bus. 1 way in 1 driver to check reserve no reserve no get on bus. But on train............................
If we introduced this system, I’m confident that the vast majority of the public would comply. Most people would feel uncomfortable using public transport anyway because they’ve over perceived the risk to themselves from the virus, this would mostly work, and the system wouldn’t need 100% compliance to be effective for its purpose anyway.

it’s either compulsory reservations or unless you don’t own a car you can’t travel anywhere, and that would be far more damaging for the economy, mental health and potentially the virus if people started to ignore it than a sensible but practical system of compulsory reservations
 

Mat17

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But back to the "equal chance". I occasionally use a bus which runs from Watlington to Oxford. It usually runs every hour (but is running every two hours at present). End to end takes about 55 mins. I get on about twenty minutes from Watlington. By then most buses are usually about 70% full. By the time it reaches the outskirts of Oxford they are near enough full. So, we get to the "socially distanced" version where capacity is, at best, 25% of normal (which will still be nowhere near enough to enable two-metre distancing, but no matter). So long before it reaches the village where I board it will be "full". In fact it will probably be full upon leaving Watlington. This means that everybody beyond there or very soon after will have absolutely no chance of joining the one and only bus that takes them into the City.

I had the exact same concern some months ago with regards to the local bus services around my region, my route is normally hourly like yours and exactly the same thing would occur. Similar with the local train services. It's all very well saying, "Sorry this service is full, please catch the next one." Well if the next one is an hour away or more and is probably full too, then how long as a commuter are you realistically going to be able to stand there waiting for a service you could get on? Well not long, because you'd never be able to get to work and you'd lose your job.

Nor is cycling a realistic option for everyone. In my case, I have neither the balance nor the fitness to cycle 15 miles to work and 15 miles back every day. I guess I'd be like the boy in the old Hovis advert pushing the bike up the hill most of the way there anyway, probably take me 3 or 4 hours to get to work. So no buses, no trains and unable to cycle, it's drive a car then or join the growing ranks of unemployed.

I was watching the news last week broadcasting from London Waterloo station, one of the staff members was explaining that they were counting passengers onto departing services and then once capacity limit had been reached they would pull across the barriers and ask any queuing passengers to wait for the next service. As it stood, I don't believe they'd had to do that yet due to low numbers travelling. But my two questions at that point were:

1) Do they fill the train to capacity before letting it leave? If so that means no-one can join the train at any of the calling points thereafter until someone disembarks?

2) So you might get to work if departing from a terminus, but if disembarking mid-route on a line, you might never actually be able to board a return service?

So if travelling travel to and from terminii only? What future does that give to any of the town/village stations along any route in the country? They'll all end up like Reddish South and Denton, 'ghost-towns', unused and then maybe shut?
 

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