HOSPITAL VISITOR WAITING AT QMC TRAM STOP RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT LACK OF SOCIAL DISTANCING ON TRAM
Writing in the Nottingham Post on Wednesday 23 September 2020, Peter Hennessy reported that a visitor returning from an appointment at the QMC expressed concern and disgust that the tram was over-crowded with what he took to be students and with no opportunities for social distancing. ...
Hospital patient 'disgusted' after being crammed into tram on his way back from QMC
He believes there were large groups of students
A 60-year-old man says he was "disgusted" at how many people were crammed into the tram during his journey home from a hospital visit.
Robert Felstead, from Bulwell, was waiting at the Queen's Medical Centre tram stop to travel back home at 8.40pm on Monday, September 21.
When it arrived, he says he discovered the tram was "absolutely full" of young people - leaving no room for any social distancing to take place.
He was returning from an appointment over a possible heart problem.
It comes after concerns were raised by another member of the public, who took a picture of a packed tram at Nottingham station on Sunday, September 20.
Mr Felstead said: "I couldn't believe my eyes, I was disgusted. The tram was absolutely full.
"You had to really try to just get through the door, because it was that full. Everyone in there was younger people, I'd guess they were new students, one or two weren't even wearing masks.
"It was like I was travelling on the tram on a very busy morning before coronavirus had ever happened.
"I did think about waiting for the next tram, but I thought 'what if that one is just as busy?'
"The latest figures show that its younger people that are causing this rise in cases - you can see why.
"And then when they got off, they all immediately took off their masks. They were in groups of far more than six, too.
"You wonder, do they really listen to advice? It's a bit of concern whenever I need to use the tram now. This coronavirus isn't going to go away."
A tram driver, who wished to remain anonymous, also told Nottinghamshire Live about 'mobs' of students queuing to board.
They accused the students of "putting other passengers at risk" by ignoring requests not to squeeze onto the platforms.
A spokesperson for NET, which runs the tram network in Nottinghamshire, said: “Following a return to a full operational timetable we’ve increased capacity across the network but clearly more people are now using all forms of public transport, particularly at peak times. Therefore, we strongly urge people to consider when they need to travel and choose quieter times when they can.
“Usually weekends are generally quieter but, on occasion, a tram can be busier than expected for a short period.
“If a tram is busy, we ask customers to wait for the next one if they are able to, and there are other things they can do to help prevent the possible spread of Covid-19. These simple steps include paying for travel in advance using the NETGO! mobile app and standing clear of the doors to let other passengers get off before they board.
“While NET staff do not have any formal powers to enforce social distancing, we would like to remind customers that anyone travelling on the tram without a face covering risks a fine from the police, unless they are exempt from wearing one.
“Throughout the pandemic, every effort has been made to keep the network safe, including the introduction of enhanced cleaning procedures, automatic door opening so there’s no need to touch buttons, and signage to help people follow recommended social distancing.
“So far we’ve seen the vast majority of customers observing the government’s rules and guidelines, which are increasingly important as the network gets busier, and we would like to thank them for their continued support.
“We are working with partners, including schools, colleges and universities to share advice on travelling safely by tram.”
Both universities reiterated that they are working with their students to make sure they behave responsibly on public transport and ensure the safety of others.
A Nottingham Trent University spokesperson said: “All our students are made aware of the impact they have in the local community, including on public transport, and have been given clear expectations regarding the measures they should take to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
“We have had, and will continue to have, regular discussions with public transport operators. While we recognise that restrictions for travelling on the tram are put in place by and managed by the operator, we are happy to have continued discussions around how we might be able to work together further to support our partners.
“Our code of behaviour has been updated to reflect the fact that students need to comply with the latest guidance and where we have evidence of NTU students not following the rules, there could be consequences under our disciplinary processes.”
A University of Nottingham spokesperson said: "We are working closely with our students to ensure they follow social distancing guidelines at all times - both on and off-campus - and behave as responsible members of the communities of which they are a part.
"We are communicating directly with them to remind them that while the frequency of public transport services may be increasing, they still need to allow additional time for their journeys, and follow transport companies' social distancing measures at all times."
Editor's Note: Similar concerns connected to the QMC tram stop, and to bus stops on Derby Road have already been raised with Nottingham City Council and with the two universities by local residents who have expressed worries about crowding at stops, lack of awareness of social distancing, and lack of use of masks by students.