Travel Advice During COVID-19
Find the latest advice and information on travel around Lancaster during the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Coronavirus pandemic is reshaping many of our travel patterns and habits. Many of us are enjoying the outdoors, walking more or cycling more. We have benefitted from less traffic on the roads, less congestion, less pollution and improved air quality as a result.
Many people are finding public transport challenging or have concerns about their health when using these means and as a result are switching to new modes of travel. Through personal choices, many are benefitting their health, their finances and the environment.
Current advice and information
General travel advice and guidance
The UK Government's latest advice and guidance on Coronavirus is available here.
Transport is very important for our students, and for our staff, who need to travel to the campus.
You must not travel at all if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 and/or you need to self-isolate. More information on self-isolation and COVID testing is available here.
When you travel please think carefully about the times, routes and ways you travel so that we will all have more space to stay safe. Please use the Safer Travel Checklist before you make a journey.
However you plan to travel, please familiarise yourself with the UK Government's Coronavirus Safer Travel Guidance. This provides important advice and information on walking, cycling, travelling in vehicles or on public transport during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Lancaster has a very high alert level for Coronavirus and is in Tier 3 of the local COVID restrictions.
- You may continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, for work, or to access education, within a very high alert level area (Tier 3), but you should and aim to reduce the number of journeys you make.
- Work from home where you can effectively do so.
- Walk or cycle where possible, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
- Avoid sharing a car with someone from outside your household or support bubble unless you can practice social distancing.
- If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance. This includes the rules on wearing face masks and advice on car sharing.
Detailed information for on travel restrictions for Tier 3 areas is available on the University website here.
Can students travel home during term-time?
We're asking that all members of our community follow the national and local restrictions. Currently in Lancashire, that means you must not meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside of outside the affected local areas, unless they're in your support or childcare bubble. For more information, including definitions of support and childcare bubbles, please visit the Government advice.
Can students go home over Christmas?
The Government announced on 29th September that they will work with universities to make sure that all students are supported to return home safely and spend Christmas with their loved ones if they choose to do so. We're asking that all members of our community regularly check the local and national guidance for any further updates.
Bus & Coach Travel
The latest Government advice on using public transport can be found here.
The current advice is to walk or cycle where possible, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.
The University has used the amount of campus-based teaching to model demand for daytime bus travel from October. Stagecoach are providing significantly more capacity than usual, relative to that demand.
In the daytime, buses are inevitably busier arriving at the University just before the hour and leaving the University around the hour. For the most relaxing travel experience we suggest choosing buses that leave the city centre between quarter to and quarter past each hour, and those that leave the Underpass around half past each hour.
The Stagecoach Bus App has a new “How busy is my bus?” feature. Once term-time travel patterns become established this will be a useful way to find a quieter bus.
Several studies suggest that the chance of Coronavirus spreading on public transport is minimal. Stagecoach are operating a robust cleaning regime on all their vehicles and social distancing and the wearing of face coverings is mandatory. This all helps to ensure that the bus is safe to use.
Important information for all passengers using Stagecoach bus services is available on the Stagecoach website. Additional information and FAQs on bus travel is also available. For updates follow Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire on Twitter.
Face coverings on public transport
When using public transport, wearing a face covering is mandatory, unless you are exempt for health, disability or other reasons. Find out more here.
Face coverings at public transport hubs and bus stops
You must also wear a face covering in substantially enclosed areas of transport hubs. This includes the University Underpass and Lancaster Bus Station. Please observe all social distancing guidelines at the Underpass and at all other bus stops. Wearing a face covering is recommended at other bus stops. Please keep at least 2 metres apart if people present at any bus shelter are not wearing a face covering.
If you have a question about accessibility whilst using bus services during the present time you may find an answer here.
Due to social distancing measures on Stagecoach buses, only 1 person can sit in each double seat unless you are travelling with someone in the same household or social bubble. There is also no standing permitted. Stagecoach have confirmed that capacity on the buses is at 40% of normal levels in order to enable social distancing. If you have a Unirider pass you are no longer required to show your student photo ID every time you board the bus.
Please pay on board by contactless if you can. Cash payments are exact fare only so no change will be given.
University term bus timetables in operation
The University term bus timetables are now in operation, with the direct 1/1A service running every 10 minutes Mon - Sat daytimes, every 20 minutes in the evenings, and every 20 or 30 minutes on Sundays. The N1 night bus has resumed, but excluding the Thu – Sat 0230 and 0300 journeys from Lancaster Bus Station (0245 and 0315 from campus). The X4 direct railway station service has returned as usual. Services 4 and 100 continue as normal all year round – please do use these services if they are quieter.
Unirider bus passes
If you expect to travel on three or more days per week (four days if you are under 19) buying a bus pass should save you money. Unirider bus passes can be purchased directly from Stagecoach online where a wide range of payment methods are accepted. Bus passes for students are only available online in 2020/21 due to COVID-19 and are not available via the Students' Union until further notice. If a replacement bus pass is required, staff should contact the HR Rewards Team and students should contact the Facilities Helpdesk.
Refunds - Students
Refunds - Staff
The University has considered the cost of bus passes during Covid-19 and made the decision not to issue refunds for various reasons. A price freeze on all subsidised staff bus passes for 2020/21 should help mitigate against this. Reasons for not providing refunds include the following:
- The administrative workload and costs of processing refunds would outweigh the amounts being refunded. There is no increase in staff bus pass prices in 2020/21 to reflect this.
- There are challenges in administering refunds for some staff and not others as some staff pass holders are still required on campus each day for whom a refund would not be appropriate.
- The passes are already heavily subsidised at either 70%, 75% or 100% (dependent on grade).
- The passes have to be paid for in full to Stagecoach and the University is not obtaining refunds on the amounts paid to Stagecoach for the staff bus passes.
- The University has maintained 100% salary contributions to all staff to 31st July 2020, including furloughed staff.
Megabus and National Express Coach Services
Megabus are operating their coach services from the Underpass. You can view their Coronavirus safety information here.
National Express are no longer operating services out of Lancaster. The nearest National Express coach stops are at Preston and Blackpool.
Please check this page and the links provided frequently for the latest updates and information.
More information about travelling to the campus by bus is available on the Bus Travel webpage.
Lancaster is an excellent area for cycling and one of just six former national Cycling Demonstration Towns benefitting from sustained investment in cycling. A recent study found that Lancaster is the best cycling city in the UK.
Cycling will help to reduce pressure on the local bus services and the local road network. The Government advises that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands both before and after cycling.
Bring a bike to Lancaster
All students coming to Lancaster are encouraged to bring a bicycle with them to use for travel. Basic accessories including front and rear lights, a helmet and a good quality lock should also be used.
New cycle parking
Cycle parking is available across the campus including at all residential areas. Secure cycle stores are available in all but one of the colleges. Brand new secure cycle stores are available at Chancellor's Wharf. Additional cycle parking has been installed over the summer at various key points on the campus to provide additional facilities.
New cycle routes on campus
New cycling routes were installed earlier this year onto campus linking Bailrigg Lane, the new Health Innovation Campus and the main campus site. This video shows what it is like to cycle this new route. D
During darkness hours, the cycle route between the Sports Centre and HIC should be used instead of the new cycle route past the side of Lake Carter as that route does not yet have lighting on it. We are working on a lighting scheme for this route that will be sympathetic to the fragile ecology in that area of campus.
New cycle routes off campus
Pop-up Covid cycle lanes are being provided by Lancashire County Council to help encourage safer cycling during the Coronavirus outbreak. For example, a pop-up Covid cycle lane is provided on South Road which is a key student transport corridor in Lancaster. Additional facilities on the local roads are likely to follow soon.
Bike maintenance and Dr. Bike services
Please note that the Bike Maintenance Workshop in Bowland Avenue remains closed until further notice. There will be no Dr. Bike maintenance service on campus until further notice although we are working on putting something together.
Access to Shower and Changing Facilities
Unfortunately, shower and changing facilities on campus are temporarily locked-off due to the risks associated with COVID-19. We are looking into this issue and will open up these facilities as soon as it is safe to do so. We understand how important access to such facilities are for many cycle commuters.
More information is available on the Cycling webpage.
Walking as a form of transport is free, healthy, independent and easier to social distance. Walking will help to take pressure off the local bus services and the local road network.
Where possible, keep a suitable distance from other people. For example, when using one of the cycle routes or footpaths and when waiting at a crossing or traffic lights. Take precautions where this is not possible.
New walking routes onto campus are now available linking Bailrigg Lane, the new Health Innovation Campus and the main campus site. This video shows what it is like to cycle this new route. During darkness hours, the cycle route between the Sports Centre and HIC should be used instead of the new cycle route past the side of Lake Carter as that route does not yet have lighting on it. We are working on a lighting scheme for this route that will be sympathetic to the fragile ecology in that area of campus.
More information about walking to campus is available on the Walking webpage.
If you do need to travel by train, please follow the recommended guidance of National Rail before you set off:
- Plan ahead and consider travelling during less busier times of the day;
- Consider other passengers and rail staff. Wearing a face covering whilst travelling by train is required;
- Wearing a face covering is required in all train stations at all times;
- Stay safe by following social distancing guidelines at stations, platforms and trains wherever possible;
- Do not travel if either you or anyone in your household are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Further important advice and information for all rail passengers is provided and regularly updated by National Rail.
The latest information on Lancaster Railway Station including ticket office opening hours is available here.
More information is available on the Train Travel webpage.
Car Parking - general
Parking enforcement on campus recommenced on 3rd August 2020 along with the introduction of cashless parking payments. This is helping to ensure a fair and efficient parking system for all parking users as well as reduce Covid-related issues associated with handling cash.
All types of parking permit sales are exclusively available online for 2020/21. The following are available to purchase through the University's Online Store:
- 1-day parking scratch cards for staff
- 1-day parking scratch cards for visitors.
- 1-day parking scratch cards for contractors.
- Chancellor's Wharf Visitor Car Parking Permit.
- Parking Permits for Contractors.
Please do not visit the Car Parking Office in person. You can contact the Parking Office by telephone on 01524 592179 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on car parking on campus is available on the Car Parking webpages.
Staff Car Parking - payments and refunds
The University has considered the cost of parking permits during Covid-19 and made the decision not to issue refunds for various reasons. This applies both to 2019/20 and to 2020/21. A price freeze on all parking permits for 2020/21 should help mitigate against this. Monthly salary deductions for staff parking permits continue as normal.
Annual permits are for the 2020/21 academic year and expire on 30th September 2021. The year and expiry date are not printed on the annual permits this year.
The University is able to offer hardship loans to some staff members. These are available where there has been a significant drop in household income due to the COVID-19 crisis. For more information and eligibility please see the Staff Intranet.
The reasons for not issuing refunds include:
- The administrative workload and costs of processing refunds would outweigh the amounts being refunded. There is no increase in permit prices next year to reflect this (except for EV Permits due to the separate cost of electricity).
- There are significant challenges in administering refunds for some staff and not others as some staff are still required on campus each day for whom a refund would not be appropriate.
- The revenue generated from staff parking funds subsidised staff bus travel and the University is not obtaining any refunds from Stagecoach.
- The University has maintained 100% salary contributions to all staff to 31st July 2020, including furloughed staff.
- Many staff car commuters have saved money on fuel and other motoring expenses by not commuting to campus during the lockdown. A [working from home/furloughed] full time member of staff travelling a [typical commuting distance of] 4 miles will save approximately £75/month on vehicle operating costs (168 miles x £0.45/mile). Those staff working from home do incur [additional] costs through homeworking. The UK Government calculates homeworking costs at £6/week, or £25/month. The monthly cost of the parking permit works out at between £10-£18/month (depending on grade and proportion of week worked). In the event that staff remained furloughed or working from home until end September 2020 the cost of the parking permit over that five-month period would be £50-£100. A member of staff with a parking permit who is now working from home is likely to save £50/month (£75/month vehicle commuting costs - £25/month homeworking costs).
Car Sharing and Sharing Lifts
The updated Government advice applicable to the local restrictions in Lancashire is that you are not advised to share car journeys with those outside your household or support bubble.
When car sharing does take place you must follow the guidelines outlined here by the Government. Please note that this advice applies nationally; more locally in Lancashire people are specifically advised not to share car journeys with those outside their household or support bubble.
See also the Car Sharing webpage.
From 24th September 2020, you must wear a face covering when using a taxi or private hire vehicle in England.
Other important information for anyone travelling by taxi is provided by the UK Government.
Lancaster City Council regularly publish updated information and guidance for locally licensed taxi and private hire operators in Lancaster. You can view this here.
The taxi ranks located in Bowland Avenue by the Chaplaincy Centre, on Alexandra Park Drive by the Lonsdale College bus stop and in the city centre all remain open.
More information on taxi travel is available on the Taxi Travel webpage.
Privately owned e-scooters are currently illegal to use on UK roads, pavements and cycle paths. The UK Government has now legalised hired e-scooters in certain areas where trials are taking place on their use on public roads and cycle paths. Lancaster is not currently one of these areas but this may be an opportunity for the future. We suggest that you consider a bicycle or an electric bicycle instead.
Student Car Parking - payments and refunds
The University is not issuing refunds on student parking permits during Covid-19 for various reasons. This applies both to 2019/20 permits and to 2020/21 permits. A price freeze on all parking permits for 2020/21 should help mitigate against this.
Reasons for not issuing refunds include:
- The administrative workload and costs of processing refunds would outweigh the amounts being refunded. There is no increase in permit prices for 2020/21 to reflect this.
- Many student permit holders have saved money on fuel and other motoring expenses by not commuting to/from campus during the lockdown. These costs are usually greater than the permit costs.
- A majority of the lockdown period during 2019/20 covered vacation periods (Easter and Summer Vacations) as well as the Summer Term when student car use on campus is much lower than it is in the busiest times of the year in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms.
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