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Nearly 70% of potential public transport users remain keen on face masks – AA 

Nearly 70% of potential public transport users remain keen on face masks – AA 

With the post-summer return to work this week, up to 70%* of people with cars would want to wear face masks were they to use public transport instead. This is despite the Government's general lifting of covid restrictions. 

However, effective take-up of face coverings on individual buses or in a rail or Tube carriage may be swung by the decision of the 25% who are ambivalent about mask wearing.

A Yonder survey of 14,778 AA members, therefore people with the option to travel by car, found that a fortnight before the return to school and work 68% were likely to wear a face mask on a train, 70% on the underground and 69% on the bus. 

On the flipside, only 7% to 8% said they were less likely to wear a face mask on the different types of public transport since mandatory use has been lifted. 

The 'wait-and-see' group, who will watch what other travellers do and then decide whether or not to cover their face, made up 24% on trains and buses and 23% on the underground. 

"Although weekend and bank holiday traffic has reached and sometimes gone back above pre-pandemic levels, weekday car traffic has struggled to get back above 95% of where it was before 23 March 2020. Given that public transport use is still way below normal, car travel levels are probably stilted somewhat by people driving when they might previously have taken the train, bus or Tube," says Edmund King, the AA's president. 

"With the lifting of covid restrictions, the AA wanted to gauge how comfortable car owners might be on a public transport without mandatory face coverings. More than half of them, rising to 57% on the underground, said they are 'much more likely' to cover up now that rules on wearing face masks have been eased. 

"Yet, it is the 25% who are neutral about whether or not to wear a face mask that we think are key to whether more people return to public transport permanently. If those undecideds observe and feel that the tide is moving away from face masks, growing reluctance to cover up will make it more uncomfortable for those travellers still with covid concerns. That may encourage many of them back to their cars." 

Among 18 to 24 year olds, the survey shows that around 50% are likely to wear face masks, rising to 66% on the Tube. At the other end of the age range, around three quarters are more likely to take the precaution across the different types of public transport. 

Across the UK, those in the South West and East Anglia are most consistently opting for continued face-mask wearing with the likelihood at 70% or more. Least likely are those in the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside, although those saying they are less likely to cover up still represent only around 10%.

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