Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed the announcement of £7 million from the Scottish Government to upgrade transport in an effort to mitigate against Covid-19.
A newly established Public, School and Community Transport COVID-19 Mitigation Fund will support measures on buses, taxis and private hire vehicles, trams, subway and local ferries and planes that are used for public, school and community transport.
The funding will help install measures to add capacity and bolster public confidence in using the transport network. Suggested measures could include driver screens, hand sanitiser dispensers and fitting, high performance air conditioning units or disinfectant fogging equipment.
Full information on how the scheme will operate will soon be available to view on the Transport Scotland website with operators and local authorities being provided with guidance on how to apply.
Ms Maguire said: “I’m glad that funding is being made available to equip vehicles with measures to disrupt any spread of Covid-19. It’s understandable that residents in North Ayrshire may still feel hesitant or anxious in using public transport at this time.
“I hope that this will assure residents that efforts are being made to minimise the risk of the virus being transmitted during your journey. I encourage all operators in North Ayrshire who are able to apply for funding to do so once the information from Transport Scotland is available.”
“The virus does still pose a threat to the public and face coverings remain mandatory on public transport unless you are medically exempt. Please continue to adhere to public health guidance and limit the number of journeys you take if possible. If you can, please continue to work from home and avoid travelling at peak times to minimise congestion and pressure on the transport network.”
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:
“Recent surveys indicate there is still a high degree of anxiety around using public transport due to the risks posed by COVID-19. While there is no risk-free solution at this time, I want to do all that we can to help mitigate the risks that do exist on public transport.
“This funding offers public, school and community transport providers the opportunity to install additional measures should they need to. I recognise that many operators and staff have been working tirelessly to create a safer environment for passengers – but some may still need to take additional steps or require funding to do so.
“With more people expected to make journeys over the coming weeks – this is the right time to provide additional support to help mitigate some of the risks posed by COVID-19 on public transport.
“It’s important to stress that COVID-19 does still present a danger and masks are compulsory on public transport unless an exemption applies. Practicing good hand hygiene is also critical in controlling the spread of the virus.”