James May: Pandemic has been a death knell for public transport

Tom Horton

James May has said the coronavirus pandemic has been a “death knell” for public transport.

The former Top Gear presenter said “the whole landscape of movement, transport and working practices will change quite a bit” as a result of Covid-19.

May predicted people will walk, cycle and use electric scooters more often in future.

He told the PA news agency: “Until coronavirus is completely banished, which seems to be some years off according to the experts, it’s a bit of a death knell for public transport, which is the thing that we were told would save our cities.”

He added: “We are certainly not going to be able to do without cars for some time yet and especially not in rural areas.

“Youngsters can do without a car in cities for the most part, and I know a lot who do, but more out in the sticks, you don’t really have a great deal of choice for longer journeys.

“You are really going to have to have a car and you are going to have to be able to drive, so it actually needs to be encouraged.”

The television presenter is also calling for there to be an extension to the two-year validity period of theory tests.

In order to take a practical driving test candidates must be able to show they have passed their theory at some point over the previous two years.

May said learner drivers “have got a lot of other things to worry about”.

“It is not all these, largely young, people’s fault that they can’t carry on with their driving lessons or their practical tests and I think expecting them to do the test again and pay for it again is sort of putting the boot in a bit at a time when they could do without it,” he said.

“For most of the last year, you haven’t been able to learn to drive so you have got this fresh theory test pass in your hand which is permission to go off and learn to drive and you can’t do it, and then to say that it’s expired seems a bit of a low blow.”

A spokesman for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency said: “Ensuring new drivers have current, relevant knowledge and skills to identify developing hazards is a vital part of the training for young and new drivers, who are disproportionality represented in casualty statistics.

“To ensure their safety, the Government has decided not to extend theory test certificates and learners will need to pass another theory test if their certificate expires.”

May’s app, My Theory Test By James May, which is a tool for learner drivers, has a reduced price for April to help those who are resitting their test.