Last reviewed 25 March 2021

An independent review into the deaths of London bus drivers from Covid-19, led by the UCL Institute of Health Equity (IHE), finds an earlier national lockdown could have saved lives. Available — here, the report notes that 22 out of the 27 drivers who died had ceased work by 3 April, meaning their infection would probably have been contracted pre-lockdown.

The new report is the second of a two-part review, commissioned by Transport for London (TfL), to understand more about the factors relating to the deaths of drivers among bus companies operating TfL routes within London from March to May 2020. Part one of that report can be found — here.

The final report updates the part one analysis with new data from bus operators and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to provide a better indication of the extent of excess mortality among London bus drivers in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in London.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “We commissioned an independent review into the tragic deaths of bus drivers from coronavirus because we wanted to ensure we were doing everything possible to protect staff. As the son of a bus driver, this is deeply personal to me, and the transport workers who have lost their lives are constantly in my thoughts.”

Key recommendations

The final report includes a number of suggestions for future action:

  • continued social distancing and mask wearing in all locations where bus drivers are out of their cabs

  • a short-term review of shift lengths, patterns and rotas given that fatigue is a pre-existing issue for some bus drivers, with evidence that Covid-19 infection and lockdown have contributed to this

  • financial, psychological and clinical support from bus companies and the NHS for drivers who have clinically verified ongoing Covid-19 infection symptoms

  • better enforcement action to support drivers given reported problems with passenger aggression and non-compliance.

In addition, bus operators should ensure a more complete recording of ethnicity and TfL should issue similar guidance on harmonised ethnic recording to that currently being implemented across the NHS which is based on the March 2021 Census ethnic classification.