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Travel staff ‘need extra protection’ as more die

Under
threat:
Transport
workers
such as bus
drivers
need more
protective
equipment,
say unions PICTURE: REUTERS

TRAVEL workers are pleading for more coronavirus protection after a spike in public transport deaths due to the disease — including a doubling of fatalities in London to ten.

Eight bus drivers in the capital have now died from Covid-19, along with a London Underground worker and a Transport for London official — plus a bus driver in Bristol.

Transport unions have called for stringent new hygiene regimes amid fears the death toll will continue to increase as crowded services still run.

Tube drivers must be provided with masks, gloves and instructions on how to use them safely, said union Aslef.

‘Unlike politicians and managers, front-line transport staff cannot work from home — everything possible must be done to protect their safety,’ said union official Finn Brennan.

London mayor Sadiq Khan yesterday paid tribute to the victims, while also insisting cleaning was being ramped up and his teams were pressing for more personal protective equipment for front-line staff.

He said: ‘We can do the best we can with the limited facilities given by government but we’re lobbying the government daily for additional PPE and additional testing as well.

‘We’re regularly cleaning the key touchpoints — rails, steering wheels, restrooms at depots — with anti-viral disinfectant. We also now have a longer-lasting, 30-day anti-viral disinfectant that leaves a coat of film on the places they’ve cleaned.’

But he insisted public transport was not ‘dangerous, per se’, insisting ‘social contact’ posed the gravest risk.

Mr Khan accepted that many trains and buses were still crowded after TfL brought in reduced services on routes, with key stations on the Victoria, Jubilee and Central lines proving busiest.

The mayor said there had been a 94 per cent fall in Tube passengers in recent days, along with an 85 per cent drop on buses, but admitted certain stations were still worrying ‘pinch-points’.

London victims included the ‘much-respected’ Asghar Ali, a bus driver based in Barking, while tributes were also paid to ‘dedicated’ Bristol bus worker Martin Egan, who had spent 40 years with First Group.