Cabinet Secretary sets out latest transport response to Covid-19 outbreak

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Transport recovery - planning for the new normal

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has provided an update on progress towards delivering an effective transport system once the lockdown is lifted.

Mr Matheson has held meetings with representatives from across the transport sector including bus, rail, aviation and ferries, to discuss how operators can begin to bounce back from the impact of the outbreak.

In tandem with the Scottish Government planning process, transport is planning ahead for upcoming challenges. Transport will play a key role in the recovery process in terms of supporting essential travel, but also ensuring the public has confidence in using public transport while maintaining physical distancing.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee today, Mr Matheson said:

“Since March 23 the clear message for the public that they should “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives”, demand for public transport has fallen by somewhere between 85 and 90 per cent against ‘normal’.

“Now, looking forward to the transition to a new-normal for transport, there are a range of issues under consideration. 

“The level of physical distancing required will obviously affect the supply of public transport. Operators estimate that the 2 metre rule could mean capacity is anywhere between 10 and 25 per cent of ‘normal’.

“As Government considers how and when to ease lockdown measures it is obvious that careful management of demand on the transport system will be necessary. Over the coming weeks I will set out how our Transport Transition Plan will support Scotland’s people and businesses on that journey to the “new normal”.

“The plan will set out what steps public transport operators will take to make our buses, trains and ferries as safe as possible. It will provide guidance to the public and business on how and when to use public transport, reinforcing the importance of continued working from home, staying local and walking and cycling.

“The plan will also set out how we will engage with local authorities, regional transport partnerships and operators to operationalise this across Scotland.

“We continue to do all that we can to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on public transport, and to ensure that the transport system is ready to cope with increasing demand as we move towards our new normal.”

Published 13 May 2020 Tags