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Public transport capacity will be below 25 per cent as lockdown is eased, Michael Matheson confirms

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Public transport capacity will be below 25 per cent as lockdown is eased, Michael Matheson confirms

The transport minister said that face coverings are “expected” to be worn on trams, trains and busses and a minimum of two meters physical distancing is to be observed as much as possible

Scotland’s public transport system will be operating at 10 to 25 per cent capacity during the first phase of the Scottish Government’s lockdown easing plan, transport secretary Michael Matheson has said.

He confirmed that face coverings are “expected” to be worn on trams, trains and busses and a minimum of two meters physical distancing is to be observed as much as possible.

An extra £20m has also been added to the Places for Everyone scheme to help councils widen walkways and install pop-up bike lanes to make exercising and active travel safer.

The Transport Secretary presented the Scottish Government’s ‘transport transition plan’ in parliament, saying that public transport would be “intrinsically linked to plans for reopening schools and economic recovery”.

The plan, he said, “aims to help the transport system be as accessible as possible while travelling only when necessary and while maintaining physical distancing.”

Matheson said that work is under way to enable physical distancing and said there would be an increased level of cleaning on transport and in rail and bus stations, ferry terminals and airports.

But he acknowledged that distancing would be impossible at all times, saying “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”.

“Please come prepared with your face covering when using public transport,” he added.

Working from home should remain the “default position where it can,” Matheson said, because the transport system would not be able to cope with the usual number of passengers.

He said: “Given the restrictions on the amount of people we will be able to carry, we need fewer people than normal to travel, particularly at busy times.

“As I’ve stated and in line with the route map we are urging employers to show leadership and  to be as flexible as possible to allow earlier and later starting and finishing times of those that have to travel.

“While we move through the phases we will need to manage expectations in our public transport network around, for example, traveling into cities, recognising that it won’t always be possible to satisfy demand fully, and ensure that our recovery is fair, sustainable and does not exacerbate inequalities in our system.”

Announcing the increase to the £30m for the Places for Everyone scheme to improve roads for cyclists and pedestrians, Matheson said that he hoped people would continue to use greener transport options even as lockdown begins to be lifted.

He said: “We have a real opportunity to secure a positive and lasting change in our sustainable travel habits.

“Continuing to walk, cycle, or wheel will allow us to sustain our improved air quality we’ve benefitted from since lockdown.”

Read the most recent article written by Ailean Beaton - James Dornan reverses decision to stand down at Scottish election

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