Scottish ministers have urged residents and businesses to ‘grasp a chance to change the daily commute for good’ as the country begins to re-open.
The Scottish Government said a travel demand impact assessment as part of Phase 3 of its re-opening route map suggests that cities and surrounding areas are set to welcome back hundreds of thousands of commuters, visitors and shoppers over the coming weeks.
Mr Matheson was speaking after a recent visit to Scottish Power in Glasgow
It said the number of people cycling had increased during lockdown, but roads were now expected to become busier because of the reduced capacity on public transport distancing. As a result, ministers are asking people to ‘stay local’ and embrace ‘cleaner and greener’ methods of travel.
Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity said: ‘Phase 3 sees more parts of our society and economy re-opening and will be one of the most challenging for the public, operators and employers. Demand on public transport will be significant.
‘Even with public transport service levels increasing and physical distancing being relaxed to one metre for some services, capacity is still significantly restricted compared to pre-COVID levels. This means people are being asked to continue to work from home if they can, and walk, wheel and cycle where possible.
‘The obvious temptation for households with access to a car will be to take that option, however we know many journeys are less than a few miles and could be covered via active travel, especially over the summer and autumn months.’
Mr Matheson said Scottish Power had set a good example of how employers can embrace change, with home working, safe working practices, support for staff to purchase or repair bikes and e-bikes, and staggered and flexible start times.
He added: ‘To specifically assist the increase in active travel over the lockdown period and enable physical distancing, we repurposed £30m from the Places for Everyone programme to support Spaces for People, which is funding local authorities across the country to implement temporary pop-up infrastructure.
‘As part of our green recovery, we will continue to fund high-impact permanent infrastructure and behavioural change projects.’