How will Northamptonshire public transport support getting employees back to work?

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Temporary spaces for cyclists and pedestrians and changes to buses and trains as coronavirus lockdown restrictions ease

Northamptonshire could see more space made temporarily available for cyclists and pedestrians as the county gets back to work.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson actively encouraging employees to return to their jobs, the amount of travel is expected to increase as lockdown restrictions are eased.

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Public transport unions have expressed concerns about safety and how they are going to make enough money to run services with fewer passengers.

Northampton bus stationNorthampton bus station
Northampton bus station | jpimedia

Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for highways and place Jason Smithers said: "To avoid our roads becoming congested by too much car travel, we aim to encourage walking and cycling wherever possible.

“As well as implementing some of the improvement measures we already have planned for walking and cycling facilities, we will also be looking at temporarily making more space available for cyclists and pedestrians, where this is feasible.

“As people start to go back to work in manufacturing and distribution, initially our focus will be on routes to the large industrial estates, and later, moving to other areas as shops and schools reopen.”

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Bus are of particular concern for operators and passengers, with worries about not having enough users to make services financially viable with social distancing.

TSSA (Transport Salaried Staffs' Association) union general secretary Manuel Cortes said the PM's speech 'threw public transport into chaos and panic'.

Councillor Smithers said: “Due to the social distancing requirements, the capacity of bus services will be significantly reduced.

"We are therefore liaising with bus providers to support them and ensure that social distancing occurs both on board and at bus stops.

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“In order to accommodate those passengers who will be unable to use bus services, we will be engaging with businesses and major employers like the NHS to see which measures can be put in place to control traffic flow."

In terms of trains, London Northwestern Railway passengers are being urged to only use the train for essential journeys ahead of a new timetable coming into effect.

Capacity on trains remains limited and the operator is asking its customers to only travel by train if they have no other option.

Lawrence Bowman, customer experience director for the Northants operator, said: “I would like to thank all the people who have stayed away from the railway during the national emergency.

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"Since the travel restrictions have been in place we’ve been able to help thousands of key workers make essential journeys across the region.

“The well-being of our customers and staff is our top priority which is why we are asking our passengers to act considerately and think very carefully if they really need to travel by train.”

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