Covid-19: Transport for London launches new multimodal trip-planning app to help enable social distancing


In the face of severely suppressed passenger numbers across its public transit network due to the coronavirus pandemic, Transport for London (TfL) has launched a new app that will help customers to not only plan real-time multimodal trips more effectively, but also be confident of social distancing and accurately assess active travel alternatives.

Services on TfL’s Tube, rail and bus services have been restored to normal levels during weekdays and near-normal levels at weekends. The new iPhone app provides real-time train times in a mobile-friendly way and information to enable travel at quieter times outside peak hours to help customers maintain social distancing. The app also offers alternative routes and walking and cycling options. These features will develop further based on customer feedback.

“This new app will make it easy to travel at the quieter times, change your plans on the move, should that be necessary, and access information on walking and cycling routes. It will also make it easier for customers with accessibility needs to access as much of the network as possible,” says Vernon Everitt
MD of customers, communication and technology at TfL.

Making travel easier for Londoners with accessibility needs is a top priority for TfL. The app improves accessibility information by including a ‘step-free’ mode to access easy-to-navigate views of all stations with street-to-platform accessibility.

The app was designed and built in-house by TfL and uses the open data feeds freely provided to third party app developers and others. TfL’s online data portal is currently being updated to provide greater resilience and flexibility to developers to access and use the information in their own products and services.

TfL intends to release an Android version in the autumn, with further updates later in the year. New features will include live bus information, lift status and the location of toilets.

Further datasets, such as better accessibility data which was developed for the TfL Go app, will be added to this portal later this year.

“London’s transport network is central to life in our city and essential to our economic and social recovery from the pandemic,” says Heidi Alexander, London’s deputy mayor for transport. “The rollout of TfL’s new app will help Londoners by equipping them with the information they need to make safe travel choices, whether it be for work or for leisure.”

Get around easily, safely and reliably
Vernon Everitt, Managing Director of Customers, Communication and Technology at TfL said: ‘This new app will help support our customers and London’s recovery from the pandemic as more people return to public transport.

‘Our services are cleaner than ever and running at near normal levels and we are offering a wider range of active travel options, including extensive new walking and cycling facilities. This app offers Londoners the information they need to get around easily, safely and reliably,” adds Everitt.

Social distancing
All customers are advised to continue to follow Government guidance, which includes travelling at quieter times and washing hands before and after journeys.

It is possible that social distancing may be more difficult at certain points during busier times on the network (0545-0815 and 1600-1730 on weekdays). This is one of the reasons why face coverings are mandatory for the full duration of all journeys and will be enforced by the British Transport Police.

A fine of £100 (US$130) could be imposed on people who do not comply with this. Face coverings must cover both nose and mouth for the duration of journeys on public transport, unless they are exempt.

On occasions where social distancing is not easy, TfL is asking all customers to respect the space of others and to wait for the next service if necessary. There is much greater capacity outside of peak times.

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).