How to Get Around London After the Coronavirus
London is home to one of the best transport networks in the world, but it’s designed to be crowded and crowds are a thing of the past now. As the capital comes to terms with its ‘new normal’ we’ve been taking a first-hand look at how to get around London after the coronavirus pandemic in the safest, easiest and most sustainable ways possible. Here’s what we’ve found.
Is London Underground coronavirus-safe?
In the least busy times, yes: it’s entirely possible to get a whole carriage to yourself, even throughout the most central areas of London. Plus, TfL say that they’re regularly cleaning their stations and trains with hospital-grade equipment, and have made face coverings compulsory.
But the fact is, social distancing is the very last thing that London Underground was designed for. Look no further than this Guardian article, which suggests that a normal morning’s worth of commuters observing social distancing at a tube station would cause a queue that would go back over one mile. As more people return to work across the city, the tube will become so busy that social distancing during rush hour is simply not possible, and there’s only so much that face coverings can do.
How to stay safe on the tube
Of course, the underground network is there for a reason, and if you’re visiting someone right on the other side of the city then buses and taxis are no good. If you have to travel on the tube it is permitted – but you must wear a face covering at all times. Avoid the busiest hours on the underground, from 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm, and look out for hand sanitiser stands – we’ve seen a fair few in central London’s biggest stations.
Driving around London after the coronavirus
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the easiest solution is scrapping the tube and bringing a car into London. But it’s not quite as simple as that. TfL are concerned by the already huge rise in cars within the city’s most polluted areas – despite very few people going to work, road traffic has already returned to pre-coronavirus levels, and it’s only going to get higher.
This is why in May they announced that they will be implementing ‘car-free zones’ within central London, designed to safeguard some of the key areas that have seen a huge improvement in air quality during the months of lockdown. In addition to these road closures, TfL have also temporarily ramped up the congestion charge.
What is the new congestion charge in London?
On June 22nd, the Greater London congestion charge was increased to £15 per day. It has been met with some anger, but it’s a carefully calculated decision from TfL: they believe that it will cut car journeys in the capital by a third, avoid an unprecedented spike in road emissions in the coming months.
What about eco-friendly cars in London?
It’s still good news for London’s low-emissions car owners. The congestion charge for hybrid cars – that is, cars that are either fully electric or emit less than 75g/km of CO2 – is a big fat zero. We’re huge fans of this policy, and have noticed a significant uptick in the number of low-emissions cars on the streets recently.
What is the best taxi option in London?
We’ve made our case for the best above-ground transport in London previously, but a word of caution about social distancing on buses: we’ve found that it can be very hard to maintain a two-metre space between other passengers. Green Tomato cars are continuing to operate all over London, and have even started to double offset their carbon emissions, meaning you’ll be carbon negative for the day after a lift with them.
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