20 bus drivers die from coronavirus in London with hundreds more ill – The Sun
A SHOCKING 20 bus drivers have now died from coronavirus in the capital including eight in the past three days.
They are among 26 transport workers, including four tube and rail staff, to have been killed by the bug.
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There have also been bus driver deaths in Bristol, Nottingham and the north west, while hundreds of depot staff have also fallen ill, union officials said.
The heavy toll was revealed as London Mayor Sadiq Khan was criticised for not providing PPE to workers.
Drivers have claimed buses were not being properly cleaned, with one accusing TfL of leaving staff to “fend for themselves”.
One firm in the West Country was using a flimsy ‘’shower screen’’ across the cab window to protect drivers leaving unions furious.
Others have been using scarves and swimming goggles as barriers.
The government’s action plan for PPE does not cover public transport drivers and their latest guidelines say there is “little scientific evidence of widespread benefit’’ from using it.
Instead the Department of Health website advises ‘’good hand hygiene and social distancing are key to minimising the risk of infection’’.
But Rail, Maritime and Transport workers (RMT) union boss Mick Cash said: “If they are not provided with PPE, including masks, eye defenders and gloves where necessary, they should not be working.’’
Mr Cash went on: “RMT also has other concerns about the bus industry including issues for engineering staff in depots and the facilities provided for employees in mess rooms.
“Many bus drivers on rural routes have no access to facilities to wash their hands – a key risk control measure as advised by Public Health England.”
Officials are also calling for buses to introduce middle door boarding and reduce cash transactions to reduce interaction between drivers and passengers.
One driver on Facebook based on Merseyside said he had only been given a pack of household wipes to clean his cab and many have said promised daily deep cleaning of buses is simply not happening.
Train drivers have also reported concerns with one employee at Greater Anglia claiming staff called in for shift were waiting in cramped messrooms breaching social distancing guidance.
One wrote on the Unite website: “We should be at home if waiting to be called out not in crowded conditions.’’
TfL say they are trialling middle door boarding only on some of its buses to reduce drivers coming face to face with passengers and they have also asked customers not to sit in seats nearest to bus drivers.
Unite national officer for public transport Bobby Morton said: “An essential step to achieving this is stopping cash payments, which many bus operators are still accepting. That’s a killer and it needs to stop.
@Bus operators also need to ensure that passengers are entering and exiting through the central doors on buses where possible.”
Cash payments are used extensively on buses across the South Coast, Yorkshire, West Country, Midlands and North West.
Last night TfL said Public Health England guidelines were that PPE was not required for drivers but said it was looking into its availability after being asked by Mr Khan.
Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “I am utterly devastated that some of our colleagues have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Their safety is our absolute priority and we will continue doing all that we can to protect them and our customers.
"We have enhanced our cleaning regime with stronger anti-viral products, provided access to hand sanitiser to staff and introduced a range of social distancing measures.”
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