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Corona Recovery Series: Revisited

Throughout June 2020, we published a ‘Corona Recovery’ series of four reports that focused in on central challenges that the transport sector was facing at this time. The aim being to ensure that the Corona Recovery leads us to a fairer, greener and more robust transport system. The reports focused on: Just Recovery, Active Recovery, Connected Recovery, and Transport Recovery.

One year on, three further papers have been written, assessing what changes have been made in the Scottish transport sector in response to the pandemic so far, and whether these are in line with the recommendations given in the first set of reports in the Corona Recovery series.

Connected Recovery: One year on

This report considers whether there has been progress made in embedding the benefits of distributed working necessitated by the pandemic lockdowns.

Author Jolin Warren argues that:

“Avoiding unnecessary travel is the first step in improving the sustainability of transport. As well as being being beneficial from a climate change perspective, reducing travel also results in cost savings for businesses. The benefits of reducing business travel are two-fold: not only is the cost of transport eliminated, but so is the cost of unproductive time lost to travelling. And reducing the need for employees to commute to work every day has been shown to increase productivity, and reduce absenteeism, staff turnover, and inequalities. Coronavirus restrictions for most of 2020 forced companies of all shapes and sizes to quickly adapt to a ‘no travel’ world where staff worked from home and held virtual meetings.”

 

A Just Recovery for Public Transport?

This discussion paper reflects on pandemic trends in transport, and the differing impacts that this has had on private and public transport use.

Finding 1: There have been different mobility outcomes for private compared to public transport users While car travel has recovered almost entirely to pre-pandemic levels (90%), Scottish bus and rail volumes remain far below (57% & 42% respectively).

Finding 2: Scottish public transport recovery has lagged behind the GB average Since September 2020, the recovery in Scotland’s rail and concessionary bus journeys has lagged behind the GB rail and non-London bus passenger indices.

Finding 3: We have observed better outcomes for public transport users when decisions about service levels are taken locally

Finding 4: Negative government messaging about public transport users may have been negatively biased by unrepresentative monitoring of Scottish transport users’ attitudes

Scotland’s Railway: The Year Ahead

Transform’s rail spokesperson Paul Tetlaw has prepared a new commentary on what developments we might see on Scotland’s railways over the coming year.