The Scottish government has released guidance for transport operators and passengers as well as committing further funding to help support its phased transition out of lockdown.
The guidance comes into effect from today (26 May) as the devolved nation is set to move to Phase 1 of its four phase strategy for reopening the economy on 28 May.
In her foreword to the Scottish Government plans, first minister Nicola Sturgeon warned it would mean 'that our workplaces and our public transport will look different from normal – we have all got used to things being different and it is going to be that way for a while'.
For instance, it is estimated that the capacity with physical distancing in place on public transport could be between 10% and 25% of “normal” levels, even when full service is resumed. Services will gradually be increased in line with the rest of the restrictions on social and economic activity.
Under the guidance for passengers the Scottish Government advises:
- When travelling by bus, tram or rail you should, and are expected to, wear a face covering
- Keep yourself and others safe by maintaining the 2 metre physical distance rule
- Where impossible to maintain 2 metre distancing, avoid physical contact and face away from others, keep the time you spend within 2 metres of others as short as possible
- Be considerate of the impact of restrictions on the needs of fellow passengers who may have impairments, disabilities or mobility issues
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser before and after every transport journey.
Under the guidance for operators, the government advises:
- Produce your COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with staff and trade unions, share it with them and keep it under review
- Help staff to work from home, wherever possible
- Maintain 2 metres physical distancing, wherever possible, for staff and passengers on the transport network
- Implement measures to manage transmission risk, reinforce cleaning procedures and promote good hygiene regimes
- Communicate how safety measures are being implemented to staff and passengers and make clear what is expected of them
Under Scotland's transport transition strategy, the following changes would be made to the lockdown:
- Working from home remains the default position for those able to do so. Travelling to and from work will be allowed but only for purposes permitted and where it is not reasonably possible for that work to be done from home
- Public transport will be operating with limited service and capacity to allow for physical distancing. Recommended that passengers wear face coverings and avoid travelling on busy routes and at peak periods
- Permitted to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise but advice to stay within a short distance of your local community (broadly within 5 miles) and travel by walk, wheel and cycle where possible.
- Where home working is not possible businesses and organisations are encouraged to manage travel demand through staggered start times and flexible working patterns
- People are permitted to drive locally for leisure purposes
- Public transport operating increased services but capacity still significantly limited to allow for physical distancing
- Travel at peak times discouraged as far as possible. May be geographical differences depending on circumstances.
- Can drive beyond local area for leisure and exercise purposes
- Public transport operating full services but capacity still significantly limited to allow for physical distancing
- Travel at peak times discouraged as far as possible
- May be geographical differences depending on circumstances.
- Public transport operating full service
- Physical distancing may remain in place. people should, and are expected to, wear a face covering on public transport.
All these stages and guidelines will be kept under regular review, at least every three weeks, and subject to scientific advice.
The plan highlights the importance of ensuring communication is clear, with advice on how, where and when people can travel, while also handling potential geographic challenges, as there will be no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Ministers also committed to consider the impact on those who are most vulnerable and transport dependent, and pledged to ensure that the negative impacts of any tendancy to use private cars to physically distance were limited by promoting active travel where possible.
To this end, Scotland led the way with a ‘Spaces for People’ £10m fund to support emergency road space reallocation, and pop-up cycling and walking schemes. The fund was quickly replicated south of the border, and has proven so successful in Scotland that the Government has now expanded it with a further £20m.
Cabinet secretary for transport, Michael Matheson, said: 'A system that previously had 1.5 million journeys per day will be significantly constrained.
'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.'