Transport guidelines issued as Scottish lockdown begins to ease

As Scotland prepares to lift some lockdown procedures, new government guidelines for public transport have been issued.

By Neil McGrory, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 10:10 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 10:20 am
In phase one, people are being asked to stay in their local area for services and walk, wheel and cycle where possible. Photo: Colin Hattersley Photography
In phase one, people are being asked to stay in their local area for services and walk, wheel and cycle where possible. Photo: Colin Hattersley Photography

The Transport Transition Plan advises passengers about how to safely use public transport, with an emphasis on personal hygiene, physical distancing, facemasks and avoiding busy periods.

People working from home are encouraged to continue doing so, while those who must travel for work should have flexible start and finish times.

Transport secretary 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.

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“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 per cent and 25 per cent of normal availability even with full services resumed.

“A system that previously had 1.5 million journeys per day will be significantly constrained. So today, 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.

“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.”