LONDON: London’s transport authorities have been criticized after Underground trains were packed with people on Monday morning, despite government calls for people to stay at home, social distance and avoid using public transport during the coronavirus outbreak.
People took to social media to call the current transport situation in the UK capital “dangerous” and “unacceptable,” highlighting the increased exposure risk for the nation’s key workers.
Images and videos of the chaos led social media users to speculate that Londoners were not following government instructions issued in prime minister Boris Johnson’s daily briefings.
Transport for London (TfL) announced last week that 40 of its rail stations would close and a reduced service would be running with 15 trains per hour on its rail networks through central London.
It also urged Londoners not to travel unless their journey was “absolutely essential.”
There were also reduced services on national rail services coming into London for commuters who live outside the capital.
But with many businesses remaining open for their staff and key healthcare workers in the UK capital needing to use the TfL network to travel to work, commuters have been forced to stand close to each other on packed trains exposing themselves to greater risk of contracting the virus.
Underground drivers also expressed anger at the amount of people still using the Underground during rush hour, according to Underground union bosses.
TfL said it had reduced its services in a hope of deterring people from using its services and wanted to limit the risk for their staff and drivers.
Despite the dire situation depicted in the images, TfL said on Friday there had been a 70 percent fall in the number of passengers on the Underground and a 40 percent reduction in passengers on its bus network.
A spokesperson from the Mayor of London’s office said: “Londoners should not be travelling by any mode of transport unless it is absolutely necessary, and only critical workers should be using public transport. The number of journeys on the Tube is down significantly compared to the same time last year, with an 87 percent reduction this weekend.
“But we need Londoners to stop travelling. TfL will continue to do everything it can to provide a safe service but like many organisations it is dealing with rising absence levels and needs Londoners’ cooperation in these challenging times.”