Wales is to receive an additional £64.5 million to help transport companies across the nation, as a result of the UK finding allocated to Transport for London recently.
The funding is as well as the UK-wide measures that the people and businesses in Wales can access, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales, said: “Many transport organisations across the UK are facing hardship as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and those in Wales are no exception. The UK Government is committed to a four nations response to COVID-19 and has so far announced over £7 billion of additional funding to the devolved administrations to support people, business and public services in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
“While we are urging people to work from home where possible and only to travel when absolutely necessary, there are still those who need to travel to work and people need to be able to travel safely while respecting social distancing once restrictions are gradually lifted. While it is up to the Welsh Government to decide how to allocate this additional funding, key transport services require protection so they can support Wales’ economic recovery from COVID-19.”
Earlier this month, Lee Waters, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Transport Minister, has written to all local authorities inviting them to submit proposals for temporary measures that would improve the conditions for sustainable and active travel.
Coronavirus restrictions have led to significant reductions in traffic on roads, fewer people using public transport, and more people walking and cycling. The Welsh Government’s call to action is driven by the expectation that social distancing will need to be observed for months to come, as well as uncertainty around future transport patterns.
The lockdown has also seen a huge uptake in digital remote working, bringing the need to travel long distances for work into question.
The type of ‘pop-up measures’ that are being encouraged include (but are not limited to):
- Road closures or lane closures, with filters for cyclists
- 20mph limits, bringing forward trials for the introduction of default 20mph limits
- Footway widening and decluttering
- Real time information systems, including occupancy levels
- Temporary crossing facilities
- Bus lanes, bus only roads, and park and ride facilities
- Enhanced waiting facilities to encourage social distancing
Lee Waters, Deputy Transport Minister, said: “The immense challenges of coronavirus have severely disrupted our transport network and I am clear that we don’t need to go back to normal. We have a chance to do things differently, helping more people to walk, cycle and travel in sustainable ways.
“To do this we need to make changes quickly. I want local authorities to be imaginative, drawing on good practice from towns and cities across the globe. By reallocating road space and changing our environment we can alter the way people think about travelling. These changes will support much needed improvements in air quality, decarbonisation and public health.”