New guidance to help transport operators and passengers has been produced by Transport Scotland to help the nation prepare for the lifting of some lockdown restrictions.
The guidance forms part of the Transport Transition Plan. This follows the publication of a detailed route map by the Scottish Government regarding next steps last week: COVID-19: Scotland‘s route map for transitioning through and out of the crisis.
The guidance advises passengers about when and how to safely access public transport through good hand hygiene, respecting physical distancing, using face coverings and avoiding busier times.
The plan is clear that continuing to work from home should be the default position where possible, flexible start and finish times and making more active travel choices will be vital in easing the number of people accessing public transport.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “We have worked together with operators, unions and passenger groups to develop this guidance which forms part of the Transport Transition plan being published today. The guidance stresses the need for personal responsibility when travelling and this co-operation is vital as we work to provide a safe transport system that supports the people of Scotland.
“The route map offers a path away from the current restrictions, but the virus is still with us, if we move too quickly or without appropriate diligence, it could rapidly run out of control again. The level of physical distancing required as we navigate the phases of the route map will affect the available capacity of public transport. Operators estimate capacity will be between 10% and 25% of normal availability even with full services resumed.
Mr Matheson said that a system that previously had 1.5 million journeys per day will be significantly constrained. “So, I am urging employers, operators and the public to embrace these changes and help us all adapt to a new environment which has flexible and remote working at its core, for the immediate future at least, flattens peak travel demand and has a strong focus on active travel.
“We are looking to increase the frequency of public transport. But reducing the demand for transport is vitally important. We are urging employers to show leadership and be as flexible as possible to allow earlier or later starting and finishing times for those that have to travel to work.
“Over the coming weeks and working with our local authority partners, the transport transition plan will look to manage demand and increase availability of road space and priority for walking, cycling, wheeling and bus.
“We have a real opportunity to secure a positive and lasting change, one which supports sustainable travel habits. I am therefore delighted to confirm that the Spaces for People fund for local authorities has proven so popular that it is being increased to £30 million.
He went on to say: “We all have a personal responsibility to take steps to protect ourselves and others. It is vital that we continue to keep two metres physical distance wherever possible, wash hands regularly and maintain good cough hygiene.
“Even with the measures being put in place by transport operators, it may be difficult for people to maintain physical distancing throughout their journey in some forms of public transport. I know these are real concerns of the travelling public, operators and transport staff. For that reason, people should, and are expected to, wear face coverings as an additional measure when using public transport and as a consideration to staff and fellow passengers,” Mr Matheson added.