Evening Standard

Two-thirds of employees now back in the office, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 17/09/2020 12:34:20 Rebecca Speare-Cole
a group of people walking on a sidewalk © Provided by Evening Standard

Grant Shapps has claimed that two-thirds of employees are now back at work.

The Transport Secretary told the Commons that 62 per cent of workers across the UK are commuting to their workplace.

The apparent rise in commuter numbers comes as the Government continues its drive to get people back into offices to jump start economies in city and town centres.

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Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has said he will do "everything in my power" to prevent a second national lockdown amid a surge in new Covid-19 infections.

Mr Shapps said on Thursday: "I can report to the House some numbers which might be helpful overall and say that 62 per cent of workers across the country are now going back to work - that's the highest level since the crisis began.

a group of people sitting at a train station: Passengers wearing face masks on the Jubilee Line in London (PA) © Provided by Evening StandardPassengers wearing face masks on the Jubilee Line in London (PA)

"And in particular on National Rail, the figure for the week commencing September 7 was 42 per cent back on our National Rail services."

Mr Shapps also said: "In terms of non-London buses, ridership has gone back up to 58 per cent."

Grant Shapps wearing a suit and tie: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps speaking in the House of Commons (PA) © Provided by Evening StandardTransport Secretary Grant Shapps speaking in the House of Commons (PA)

The Transport Secretary also sought to reassure the public that buses and trains are safe to use during the pandemic.

He told the Commons: "The number of passengers now returning was just 42 per cent last week and I think it's incumbent on all of us to demonstrate that the railways are safe, to take the railways from time to time which I'm sure members across the House do and to reassure people of the safety and efficacy of the use of the railways and all other public transport systems."

a group of people walking down the street: Commuters arrive in Waterloo Station in London during the morning rush (PA) © Provided by Evening StandardCommuters arrive in Waterloo Station in London during the morning rush (PA)

Meanwhile, shadow transport minister Matt Rodda called for more financial support for small family coach firms during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: "Local coach companies are much loved small businesses with the owners' name and the town of origin proudly painted on the side of the coach.

"These are local small businesses which have served their communities through thick and thin.

"But day trips and coach travel for football supporters have disappeared due to the coronavirus and four in 10 of these much loved local companies could go out of business this autumn with the loss of 27,000 jobs.

"So will the minister now reassure the House that the Government will take urgent action to support these family-owned small businesses and will he meet me and the coach operators as a matter of urgency?"

Transport minister Robert Courts replied: "I would be very glad to meet with him and representatives of the sector to look at what may be done."

17. syyskuuta 2020 15:34:20 Categories: Evening Standard

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