How to avoid catching coronavirus on public transport

There’s an easy answer here – don’t use public transport. Then the easy response to the statement that you only use it for work is – work from home. If your company’s not allowing you to or you do need to be in the office, travel off-peak. That’s the most straightforward and best solution. Facial covering and social distancing are ways to allow us to continue doing the things we need to do. They’re not the solution to the problem. Until someone comes up with a cure for COVID-19, we’ll need to keep away from each other. How do you do that on a busy tube train or a packed bus?


We all assume that travelling on public transport puts us at significant risk, but is that true? Back in April, Jeffrey E. Harris, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that the transit system in New York was responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak in that area of America. His research has now been criticised because it’s scientifically flawed. In June, France’s national public health agency, Santé Publique France published statistics showing that none of the 150 cases reported between early May and the same point in June, were linked to public transport. Officials in Japan were also unable to connect cases conclusively to public transport.

Face masks

The effectiveness of the measures we’re taking seems to be most apparent on public transport. You can’t always be two metres away from other people. Most of the time, that’s impossible, but there are other precautions you can take. The most obvious is a face covering. Wearing masks prevents respiratory droplets from expelling and infecting others when we cough or sneeze or even talk. The masks might be uncomfortable, but they do a great job of protecting us. Masks are required for public transport. Until there’s a cure, there’s very little chance that requirement will go away. That means having breakfast on the bus is a thing of the past. Things have changed. You need to adapt to them.

Hands off

This is all advice you’ve heard before, but it’s worth reinforcing just how important it is not to touch surfaces. That’s why you should continue to pay with contactless and avoid touching anything you don’t need to. Keep your hands to yourself and your mask on, and you’ll be OK.

Avoid rush hour

Don’t take the train or bus during rush hour. It shouldn’t be too difficult to convince your manager to let you start work a little bit later than usual, especially if your company is making you work from the office again. Staggered start times should be business as usual for anyone who has to go into the office so the social distancing can be observed at work. It’s also great for public transport.


You probably can’t walk the whole way to work, but what about part of it? Could you get off the bus a few stops earlier and stroll the rest of the way to work? The government’s been encouraging us to do that for years for health reasons. Now, we have an important reason to do so. It’s all about limiting our contact with others. Take yourself away from the danger whenever you can, and you’ll lower your chance of catching COVID-19.


Heading back to work and taking public transport isn’t a social thing. They’re both practical exercises. You need money to live. You need to use public transport to get to work. Avoid the urge to go back to your old ways and catch with people on the bus and sit close to them. There’s no need to be rude, but you need to keep away from everyone. Social distancing is problematic on public transport, but it’s not impossible. Take a seat where no one else is sitting. If you can’t avoid others, maybe you should get off and take the next train or bus.


There’s no magic to it. To avoid COVID-19, you need to avoid other people. You need to cover your face, and you need to avoid touching things. There’s nothing new to report. If we all do the basic things, which let’s face it should now be second nature to all of us, we’ll keep each other safe.

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