Covid-19 (Transport)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th May 2020.

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Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

I thank the cabinet secretary for advance sight of his statement.

Labour recognises the challenge that the Government faces in increasing public transport capacity as we ease out of lockdown while ensuring that we meet what must be our number 1 priority: the safety of passengers and our transport workers, to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude. That is why there cannot be any ambiguity. Therefore, why does there appear to be so much ambiguity in the guidance that the cabinet secretary published today? For example, it states:

“When travelling by bus, tram or rail you should, and are expected to, wear a face covering”.

Does the cabinet secretary accept that, with the words “should” and “expected”, that cannot be enforced? Under the guidance, there is, in fact, nothing to stop anyone—not just those who cannot wear face coverings for practical reasons—getting on public transport without a face covering.

The cabinet secretary said that PPE will be a last resort. What specific new measures has he announced today to protect our key front-line transport workers? Does his position on PPE and, indeed, the transition plan have the full agreement of the trade unions?

Finally, it seems that social distancing on public transport will be largely self-policed. What future support will the Government provide to ensure that there will be sufficient capacity to allow that distancing? Will the cabinet secretary give a personal commitment that we will not witness in our cities at peak times the scenes of overcrowded and dangerous buses and trains that we saw in England?