South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Colin Smyth has urged the Scottish Government to put in place a comprehensive plan which will allow the region’s public transport to resume services in a safe way.
In the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Colin Smyth questioned Transport Minister Michael Matheson over the Scottish Government transport update, which failed to mention any specific safety measures that will be put in place.
In his statement, the Minister encouraged passengers to wear face coverings to protect themselves and others while using buses and trains, and urged bosses to allow workers to start their shifts earlier or later to avoid morning rushes.
However, the use of face coverings will not be legally mandated, raising concerns from transport unions that bus drivers, station staff and on-train workers could be left to enforce the policy.
Colin Smyth said: “There is no room for ambiguity or half-baked planning here. As lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted across the region, there must be a comprehensive plan in place for how that can be done safely.
“It is not good enough for the Scottish Government to hope that company bosses will show leniency with their staff’s schedules. It is also not good enough to hope that transport workers will be safe because passengers have been asked to wear face coverings.
“If the government believes face coverings are necessary to stop the further spread of Covid-19, then they must explain how this will be enforced.
“Under this guidance there is nothing to stop anyone getting on public transport without a face covering, not just those who cannot wear face coverings for practical reasons.
“Transport staff need the assurance that they will not be forced into a position where they have to put themselves at risk in an attempt to enforce the official guidance.
“The Transport Minister must go back now and speak with the unions who are best placed to tell him what measures must be in place to protect their members, including considering a wider use of PPE for transport workers.
“I will continue to fight for the safety of the workers across the south of Scotland, who we owe a great debt of gratitude, as we begin to remove coronavirus restrictions.”