Message from Transport for Greater Manchester to disability groups

Safe public transport and guidance on wearing face coverings

Update message from TfGM:

Journey Assistance Card (Exemptions Card) please note it is your choice whether you wish to have a card or not.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has produced a flash card for those exempt from wearing face coverings (full list below). The card will be available on request from our Customer Services team, which can be contacted in the following ways:

Phone: 0161 244 1000 (Monday to Friday 7am to 8pm, weekends 8am to 8pm)

Web: TfGM website contact form

Once you’ve contacted the customer team, your card will be emailed to you as a file which can be printed off or shown as a flash pass on your phone.

The cards will also be available in our Travelshops across Greater Manchester. 

TfGM’s cards are valid across all transport modes and operators in Greater Manchester. They are discreet, easy to use and understand and can provide reassurance, especially if a person’s disability is hidden. You simply show the card on request to any member of staff who may ask why you are not wearing a face covering.

If you already carry a Journey Assistance card from another operator, you can continue to use this, or you can request TFGM’s card also, it is up to you. The card is not mandatory and it’s also fine if you chose not to use this card, simply to explain that you are unable to wear a face covering.

I also wanted to reassure you that operators for bus, train and tram services have informed their staff to provide advice and support to passengers on protecting themselves and others while travelling, particularly those with additional needs. 

While staff may ask a passenger not wearing a face covering if they are aware that it is compulsory to wear one when using public transport, they have been advised to accept any valid reason a passenger may give for not wearing one and not to ask for further details. 

We are also encouraging all passengers to be respectful and to look after each other, through passenger information, and not to challenge passengers who aren’t wearing a face covering, as they may have a hidden disability or another valid reason not to do so.

Link shows the new TfGM exemption card.

20-0399_Covid-19_Journey_assist_card_(005).pdf

As Greater Manchester begins to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and more people travel as businesses, shops and services reopen, it’s important that everyone feels confident and safe doing so.

TFGM’s guidance remains that people should stay at home as much as possible and only travel if necessary. And anyone who needs to travel should only use public transport if they have no other choice.

 

Wearing a face covering on public transport

The government has made it compulsory for passengers on public transport to wear a face covering from Monday 15 June.

The rule applies to passengers on-board buses, trams and trains – they don’t need to wear a face covering while waiting at a stop or platform, or in bus stations and interchanges.

A face covering isn’t the same as a surgical face mask. It can be a scarf or bandana, or can be made at home. The most important thing is that it should cover the mouth and nose. The government has given instructions on how to make and wear a face covering on its Safer travel guidance pages.

 

Face covering exemptions

While we expect everyone to wear a face covering if they can, we can reassure you that anyone who has a justifiable reason on the grounds of health or disability will be free to travel without wearing one.

Government guidance on exemptions is still in development but, following an equalities impact assessment, the Department for Transport has confirmed that the exemption will apply to those with:

  • Breathing difficulties and other respiratory conditions.
  • Conditions affecting their dexterity, meaning they are not able to put on a face covering.
  • Mental health conditions such as anxiety or panic disorders.
  • Other non-visible impairments such as autism.
  • Cognitive impairments, including dementia, who may not understand or remember the need to wear a face covering.
  • Visual impairments, with a restricted field of vision, particularly if any residual vision is at the lower edge of the normal field of view.
  • Impairments which would make it difficult to put on or take off a face covering safely, accurately, consistently or without pain.

The exemptions also apply to those who rely on lip reading. This includes carers who are travelling with someone for whom a face covering would make communication difficult.

Passengers will be able to remove their face covering for eating and drinking if necessary and taking essential medication.

This list isn’t exhaustive and exemption will also apply to anyone who has a legitimate health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering, as outlined above.

 

Safe public transport

To help keep people who have to travel on public transport safe:

  • We’re installing hand sanitiser dispensers at bus stations and interchanges. We're also assessing the roll-out to key Metrolink stops.
  • We have a rigorous anti-viral cleaning regime in place. Trams are cleaned nightly, litter collections take place throughout the day, and there is increased cleaning at bus stations and interchanges.
  • We’ve introduced measures to support social distancing – including ground stickers, platform signage and PA announcements across the transport network.
  • We’re also increasing Metrolink services to a 10-minute frequency across the network from Monday 22 June.
  • We’re introducing discounts to support flexible working. The new Clipper tram ticket from Monday 15 June will help people travelling less often. Metrolink passengers can also use the contactless early bird bonus to save money when travelling before 7am on weekdays

We’re also asking passengers to:

  • keep 2m (6ft) apart from other passengers where possible.
  • Clean hands frequently and carry a hand sanitiser if they can.
  • Use contactless payment.

 

Support from TfGM and Metrolink staff

We want everyone who has to make a journey on public transport to feel safe, confident and comfortable. Our staff at bus stations and interchanges, and Metrolink staff on tram stops, are being briefed to give advice and support to passengers on protecting themselves and others, particularly those with additional needs.

While they may ask a passenger not wearing a face covering if they are aware that it is compulsory to wear one when using public transport, staff have been advised to accept any valid reason a passenger may give for not wearing one and not to ask for further details.

Through passenger information and guidance from our staff we’ll also be encouraging all passengers to be respectful and look after each other, and not to challenge passengers who aren’t wearing a face covering, as they may have a hidden disability or another valid reason not to do so.

If anyone who is unable to wear a face covering is confronted by another passenger, they can report it to a member of TfGM or Metrolink staff. If there are no staff immediately available, or the passenger doesn’t feel comfortable reporting it to staff at the time, they can get in touch with the TfGM Customer Services team using the contact details below.

 

Further information

Anyone who would like safe travel advice and support can speak to TfGM staff at bus stations and interchanges, including at our Travelshops, which are reopening on Monday 15 June. Alternatively, they can contact our Customer Services team:

Phone: 0161 244 1000 (Monday to Friday 7am to 8pm, weekends 8am to 8pm)
Twitter: @OfficialTfGM
Web: TfGM website contact form
Post: Transport for Greater Manchester, 2 Piccadilly Place, Manchester, M1 3BG

Please share this information with your members, contacts, clients and partners.”