Meeting the demands of changing travel patterns due to evolving coronavirus restrictions have proved a major challenge for light rail operators over the past few months.
During a recent ‘Sounding Board’ Teams meeting, members of UKTram’s Light Rail Operators Committee heard they had faced capacity issues during the middle of the day with an increasing number of shoppers and part-time workers.
However, the closure of the hospitality sector during the second national ‘lockdown’ has seen a significant reduction in demand later in the evening and, overall, the gradual rise in customer numbers in the autumn had been reversed by the lockdown and Tier 3 restrictions in cities where they had been introduced.
The recent opening of retail outlets didn’t result in a significant, sudden surge in demands as many had expected but a gradual increase in passengers over the following week.
To help ensure continued compliance with rules on wearing face coverings and to encourage social distancing West Midlands Metro and Metrolink also reported the recruitment of additional support staff to assist customers.
At the same time, operators reported ongoing staff availability pressure due to employees self-isolating or sickness, and some have seen an increase in employees retiring earlier than planned.