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The transport secretary has admitted he wouldn’t get on a packed bus or Tube during the coronavirus pandemic, on the same morning the public was encouraged by the government to return to work.
Grant Shapps said people should continue to avoid public transport except for essential journeys. It comes as videos posted on social media on Wednesday morning showed busy buses and Tubes in London.
Boris Johnson said those in England who were unable to work from home should return to their jobs on Wednesday, and Shapps insisted the government is taking a “common sense” approach, gradually easing the restrictions.
But London Underground workers said there was “complete shambles” during rush hour when part of the Victoria Line was suspended after reports that a passenger had collapsed.
“Social distancing during the peak was a joke. During the suspension our carriages were heaving – it will get worse,” said one worker.
Asked by BBC Breakfast whether he would personally go on a packed bus or Tube, Shapps said: “No. People should try to avoid that.”
He also urged people not to “flood back” on to public transport, warning that the system will not be able to cope.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said: “This incident shows just how fraught with danger the government’s return to work call is for our transport services in the midst of this pandemic.
“One incident and we are reduced to crisis management with reports that social distancing is impossible with Tube carriages rammed.
“RMT warned this would happen and we were ignored. We are monitoring the situation across services this morning and will discuss any appropriate action with our local reps.”