Transport for London Restart Plan

TfL have set out their plans to support the restart following the announcement from Government on 10 May on how restrictions on movement will gradually start to be eased and published a useful briefing for businesses on 20 May.

Significant changes to the way in which people travel in London will be required.

In keeping with plans on the national rail network, TfL are working to safely and gradually build up service levels to where they were before the pandemic and will return the number of buses and trains running to as close to 100 per cent as soon as possible. They are working closely with staff and the trade unions with the intention of, by 18 May, increasing service levels to around 85 per cent on the bus network, at least 70 per cent on the Tube and London Overground (in line with national rail services), 80 per cent on the DLR and a full service on TfL Rail.

London Underground is aiming to restore the Circle Line and to re-open some of the 37 stations that have been closed for several weeks. However, some stations will stay closed for now so that staff can be deployed to help manage any congestion at busier stations. Some stations with lift-only access may need to remain closed as social distancing is not possible.

However, as is the case with national rail services, this does not mean a return to the transport network that existed before the crisis.

The national requirement to maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible means that TfL will be able to carry around 13-20 per cent of the normal number of passengers on the Tube and bus networks even when 100 per cent of services are operating once again.

Reflecting these national recommendations, TfL have set out the following advice for Londoners:

  • If you can work from home, please continue to do so. Social distancing on transport will not be possible unless people who can work from home continue to do so;
  • Do not expect to return to the transport network you were used to before. The number of people TfL can safely transport on buses and trains is severely constrained to enable social distancing;
  • If you need to travel, please re-imagine how to do so. Walk and cycle if you can. New walking and cycling space is being created to further support this;
  • If using public transport, or taxi and private hire services that are regulated by TfL, please travel outside of peak times and use a facial covering, carry a hand sanitizer and wash your hands before and after you travel. Face covering are particularly important where 2m social distancing is hard to maintain.
  • If you must use public transport, avoid the busiest times between 05:45-08.15 and 16:00-17:30, and the 20 busiest stations.
  • Advice on maintaining social distancing will be given across the transport network and further measures to prevent crowding through new queuing systems will be in operation. Please respect each other’s space and try to maintain social distancing wherever possible;
  • TfL’s hardworking staff are there to help:  please act on their instructions and respect them at all times.

To help as the number of customers travelling gradually increases, TfL are introducing a range of measures. Hand sanitizer points will start to be introduced across the transport network over the coming weeks, with points to be installed at every Tube and TfL rail station. They will also be installed in all bus stations and the Victoria Coach Station, and at TfL River Piers, the Woolwich Ferry, Emirates Air Line and at all London Overground and DLR stations where it’s safe and secure to do so. The rigorous cleaning regime for buses, trains and stations will continue.

As travel restrictions begin to be lifted, all taxi and private hire companies and drivers are being asked to put protective measures in place including ensuring face coverings to be worn by drivers.

Red buses


TfL reintroduces the requirement for passengers to touch in on London’s buses

On 20 April buses in London temporarily became middle-door only boarding as part of Transport for London’s efforts to help combat coronavirus.

Middle-door boarding was brought in as a temporary measure to protect bus drivers, as card readers are usually located at the front door adjacent to where the driver sits. This meant customers were not required to touch in when making a bus journey. TfL have since worked to return card readers located by the middle doors of New Routemasters and introduced a wide range of safety measures.

From 23 May, Transport for London will begin the phased re-introduction of the requirement for passengers to touch in on London’s buses. There will be announcements and signage in place on bus doors to let customers know they need to touch in.

Customers who use buses on 85 routes which are served by single-door and New Routemaster buses will be required to touch in using their Oyster, Contactless or concessionary card on the reader as they board. This is the first step towards returning all of London’s buses to being able to accept payments once further safety measures have been introduced to protect bus drivers. The routes are provided below.

Single door bus routes: 124, 138, 146, 162, 192, 233, 273, 315, 318, 322, 336, 352, 354, 356, 367, 377, 379, 383, 385, 394, 404, 424, 434, 462, 463, 464, 481, 631, B13, B14, E5, E10, E11, G1, H2, H3, H20, H26, K1, K4, K5, R1, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7, R8, R10, S3, S4, U9, W4, W5 and W12

The first New Routemaster bus routes where passengers should touch in at the middle door: 3, 9, 11, 12, 15, 19, 21, 24, 27, 38, 59, 67, 68, 73, 76, 87, 137, 148, 149, 159, 211, 253, 254, 415, 453, EL1, EL2 and EL3

Single-decker routes 507 and 521 will also return to taking contactless and Oyster payments but will continue to use middle door boarding.

London buses

London Streetspace programme

TfL have launched the ‘London Streetspace’ programme. This programme will rapidly transform London’s streets to accommodate significant increases in cycling and walking when lockdown restrictions are eased. With London’s public transport capacity potentially running at a fifth of pre-crisis levels, millions of journeys a day will need to be made by other means. If people switch only a fraction of these journeys to cars, London risks grinding to a halt, air quality will worsen, and road danger will increase.

To prevent this happening, TfL is planning to rapidly re-purpose London’s streets to serve this unprecedented demand for walking and cycling. On 15 May, TfL announced the latest stage of the Mayor’s Streetspace for London scheme:

  • TfL is creating one of the largest low-traffic areas in the world: car-free streets will transform roads across the capital.
  • New walking and cycling corridors planned for London Bridge to Shoreditch, Euston to Waterloo and Old Street to Holborn.
  • Meanwhile in the past week alone, TfL have added around 5,000 square metres of extra space on footpaths across London, giving people space to safely walk and queue for local shops while maintaining social distancing.

Before the pandemic, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) had had a transformative effect on air quality; since the crisis, traffic levels on roads managed by TfL have fallen by as much as 60 per cent and harmful nitrogen dioxide is down by more than 50 per cent in central London. But traffic and pollution are now starting to rise again. As some Londoners return to work, it is essential that the central London road charging schemes are reinstated to deter unnecessary car use and help London to continue to be an active, green and healthy city.

  • Central London’s Congestion Charge (CC) and the ULEZ are being reinstated from 18 May to prevent significant increases in pollution and congestion.
  • The wider Low Emission Zone, which discourages the use of the dirtiest heavy diesel vehicles and large vans, will also be reintroduced from 18 May.
  • To support the Mayor’s Streetspace plans and boost safety for people walking and cycling, TfL proposes to implement a number of temporary further changes to the CC. These include increasing the CC to £15 and extending its hours of operation from 22 June. It will be temporarily extended in the evening, meaning the charge will apply in central London from 7am until 10pm. Charges will also apply for seven days a week rather than just weekdays. These conditions are part of the Government’s bailout deal with TfL announced on 14 May.
  • To help to continue to support the vital role of NHS and care home staff, who are at the heart of the national effort in these unprecedented times, TfL will be extending the CC reimbursement scheme temporarily.

Cycle to work scheme

Alternative ways to travel, such as walking and cycling, could relieve the pressure on public transport. If you would like to put in place a cycle to work scheme, please read the Department for Transport’s Cycle to Work Scheme Guidance for Employers, covering benefits, eligibility, equipment, taxation, and salary sacrifice and national insurance contributions.

On 9 May 2020 Transport Secretary Grant  Shapps launched plans to boost greener, active transport. For businesses, it means increased productivity and increased footfall in shops. And for society as a whole it means lower congestion, better air quality, and vibrant, attractive places and communities.

Cycling and walking


Essential travel for key workers

If you’re a key worker and your journey is absolutely essential, the busiest times are 05:45-07:30 and 16:00-17:30.

TfL have given NHS staff free access to Santander Cycles

Key workers can use TfL’s travel tools and Facebook TravelBot to plan their journey.

Fare refunds

You can apply for a refund for your Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass season ticket if you’re self-isolating or not travelling due to concerns about coronavirus.

Public transport during COVID-19