Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed that London's buses have begun returning to front-door boarding, with customers required to touch in with Oyster, contactless and concessionary cards.
The move follows work by University College London's (UCL) Centre for Transport Studies and Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering to assess the risks for drivers in their cabs and close work with bus operators and the UNITE union to develop improvements to the screens beside bus drivers.
The UCL analysis finds that the steps that TfL has taken - by adding a film layer to screens and sealing off gaps around the screen as a whole, including around the Oyster reader - substantially reduces the risk to drivers of contracting coronavirus from customers.
This is on top of a cleaning regime, which sees cabs and handrails, along with other regularly touched areas, treated with hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectant.
Passengers will now start to see signage on 124 bus routes instructing them to board using the front door and use their Oyster, contactless or concessionary cards.
Front-door boarding will be reinstated on further bus routes as soon as possible, and it is anticipated that all London buses will have returned to front-door boarding by mid-June.
TfL said reverting to pre-pandemic arrangements will improve social distancing for customers entering or exiting the bus by reinstating the traditional flows on and off the bus, and while queuing at stops or stations, as well as giving TfL accurate information to ensure it is providing the service needed to enable safe travel for all.
TfL will also be introducing new limits to the number of passengers on board at any one time.
Double-decker buses will be able to carry 20 customers. Single-decker buses, depending on the size of the bus, will carry between six and 10 customers. The driver will have discretion to allow more customers on board if they are travelling in households or groups.
Heidi Alexander, deputy mayor for transport, said: "Scientific advice has confirmed that it is safe for front door boarding to resume on these buses thanks to these improvements.
"These enhancements are urgently being rolled out across the network on a route-by-route basis.
"Our message to Londoners is clear though - please work from home and travel on foot or bike if you can. Public transport is a precious resource that should be preserved for those who need it.
"But if you absolutely have to travel on our network, wear a face mask, avoid the busiest times and respect the new arrangements to enable everyone to travel safely."
Throughout the pandemic, TfL has been using additional hospital-grade anti-viral fluid across the transport network with particular attention paid to all regular 'touch points', such as handrails, doors and steering wheels.
TfL and London's bus operators have ensured that all London bus drivers have masks available to them, and in line with the Government and Mayor's advice, TfL is also urging all customers to use a face covering when using public transport to help control the spread of coronavirus.