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Warm welcome for Metro CAT

Regular patrols by the West Midlands Metro’s new Covid Advice Team (CAT) have received a warm welcome from customers since they first took to the network last week.

With the festive season fast approaching, CATs were introduced as part of efforts to keep customers safe as they prepare for Christmas under the current coronavirus restrictions.

Now on hand to help customers comply with government rules and guidance for using public transport, they’re also offering advice on how customers can plan their journey to avoid situations where social distancing may be more difficult.

During the first week of operations, they also handed out around 30 to 40 face coverings a day to customers who had forgotten their own.

Ray Harris, Head of Operations at West Midlands Metro explained: “This shows we continue to see excellent compliance with the rules on wearing a face covering and the vast majority of customers are taking the necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“This is particularly important as we prepare for Christmas under the current Tier 3 restrictions announced last week and the CAT patrols aim to inform and educate the travelling public on the importance of following the latest advice.”

Team members can also let customers know if a quieter tram is on the way, should a tram arrive that looks close to its maximum Covid-safe capacity.

They’ll also provide information on the Metro’s online ‘heat map’, which illustrates which services are most likely to be busy, making social distancing more difficult.

Easily identifiable in high visibility jackets, the Metro’s CAT team is funded by the Department for Transport and will also work alongside the Safer Travel Partnership, which has also launched a dedicated team to tackle non-compliance of face masks on public transport across the region. The multi-agency team consists of police constables and community support officers from Safer Travel, as well as staff from operators and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).

The latest initiative further supports other measures introduced by the Metro in response to the virus, including an enhanced cleaning regime, flexible tickets and intent to travel registration available via the app.

“So far our CAT patrols been really well received, and they’re playing an important role in helping to keep everyone on the network safe as trams get busier in the run up to Christmas,” Ray said.

“Of course, we continue to ask customers to play their part by planning their journey and paying for travel in advance, avoiding busy times of the day and, wherever possible, maintaining a safe social distance from other people at tram stops and on board,” he added.