Transport bosses are today urging the public not to use buses, trains and trams unless absolutely essential to help stop the spread of the COVID-19.

Only critical workers or people collecting essential food and medicine supplies should be using public transport from now on.

The new travel guidelines issued today by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), in partnership with local transport operators, is designed to help stop the spread of the virus, protect NHS staff and other key workers and save lives.

Many operators are already reducing their services this week as more and more people stay home during the outbreak and their own staff need to self-isolate. As services reduce these will be reviewed to meet the needs of these key groups and maintain access to essential public services at this unprecedented time.

The new advice states:

  • Do not travel unless you have to and ensure you maintain social distancing wherever possible.
  • Essential travel is to get supplies, support older or vulnerable people, travelling to school or going to work if your role is essential.
  • Key workers will still be able to get to sites such as hospitals, however the time at which you normally travel may need to change.
  • Operators are continuing to run first and last services where possible to ensure key workers can get to where they need to go.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Our advice to passengers could not be more simple: do not travel on public transport unless it is absolutely essential.

“Buses and trains are running at a reduced frequency. For those who rely on public transport – such as key workers helping to keep our vital NHS and emergency services operating – but we do not want people to be travelling and risking further spreading the virus.

“It is unquestionably an incredibly difficult time for all of us, but by cutting out unnecessary travel we can reduce the risk to those who have to travel, as well as helping to slow the spread of Coronavirus.”

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council added: “There are many dedicated people across the West Midlands including those who work in hospitals and the emergency services or critical sectors like social care, food supply or refuse collection and many of them need to use public transport.

“So we are asking others to help us make it safer for them to do so by cutting out non-essential journeys altogether. This is way we can better protect those vital services and save lives.”

As of Monday 23 March the frequency of train services was reduced across the country.

From Wednesday 25 March most bus operators will reduce the frequency of the services they operate in the West Midlands.

West Midlands Metro services are expected to run as normal this week but do check for updates in case the situation changes.

Keep up to date with the latest travel advice at www.wmnetwork.co.uk/networkoverview