Corona Recovery series
The Corona Crisis is severely impacting Scottish society and, as we are beginning to see, it will have long-lasting effects. We have been discussing with our members what that future might look like for transport and how we can ensure that the Corona Recovery leads us to a fairer, greener and more robust transport system.
Throughout June 2020, we published a ‘Corona Recovery’ series of four reports that focus in on central challenges that the transport sector is facing, and accompanied these with a series of videocalls for our members. The four reports focus on Just Recovery, Active Recovery, Connected Recovery and Transport Recovery.
Reversing lockdown inequalities
The report sets out a series of recommendations for the Scottish Government in designing its transport response to coronavirus so that the negative impacts of the lockdown are not “prolonged indefinitely” for the Scottish households whose mobility has been most severely curtailed during the lockdown.
In a foreword to the report, Peter Kelly, the Director of The Poverty Alliance, writes:
“This report shows how this inequality affects the transport systems we all rely on. It highlights that those who were reliant on public transport have been further disadvantaged by the measures brought in as a result of the lockdown. The changes that have been made to transport, and the likely continuing restrictions, will have an impact on our health, our environment and our incomes, with the biggest impacts on those with the lowest incomes.
“As we begin to move out of lockdown it is time to redesign our transport systems – and our wider public services – in ways that lock in social justice and reduce inequalities. Implementing the proposals in this report will go some way to helping to do this, and to supporting a just and green recovery that ensures we build back better than before.”
Locking-in the active travel benefits
The report sets out recommendations for locking-in the active travel benefits of the lockdown. One of the biggest revelations during lockdown has been just how much space is given to vehicles in towns and cities. With streets usually dominated by vehicles lying empty, the imbalance of streetspace allocation has been laid bare.
In a foreward to the report, Cllr Anna Richardson, Glasgow City Council, writes:
“For many people, our towns and cities have been shown in a new light since travel restrictions came into place. With traffic greatly reduced during lockdown, people have been able to experience clean air, safe streets, and quiet and enjoyable urban spaces.
“Public transport has of course been severely impacted, limiting the accessibility of towns and cities for many, and in particular for those households with no access to a car. But at the same time, walking and cycling have become easier and safer for people of all ages and abilities. For many, this has given a taste of a future where getting around on foot or by bike is an option for those who did not consider this possible before, and where people have priority in urban spaces, not cars.”
Enabling the digital commute
The report calls on the Scottish & UK Government, the Scottish Parliament, organisations across all sectors of the Scottish economy, and public transport operators to take action to support home working and online business meetings — as this can deliver enormous economic and environmental benefits, as well as providing greater opportunities for rural Scotland.
In a foreword to the report Brendan Dick, the Board Chair for Openreach Scotland, said:
“In many ways the lockdown has shown us how far we’ve come as a digital nation. We’re doing things online we didn’t contemplate before and innovation is happening across the whole country much faster than it might typically do.
“Public spending must support recovery from the crisis and redirect investment to areas that have the greatest social and economic impact for the country. There are growing calls for Government to prioritise investment in the provision and, crucially, exploitation of digital infrastructure ahead of such things as new, high-carbon road construction.”
Rebuilding Public Transport Patronage
The report calls for the Scottish Government to:
* Deliver on bus priority promises
* Invest in Scotland’s electric bus fleet
* Plan now for light rail
* Electrify Scotland’s inter-city rail network.
In a foreword to the report Christine McGlasson, Managing Director of Xplore Dundee, said:
“We have had a glimpse into a future when the roads are not jammed with cars, when congestion is a thing of the past and the air in our towns and cities is cleaner and healthier.
“Before the threat of a massive post-pandemic increase in private car usage becomes reality, now is the time for operators and authorities to think in a joined-up way about how public transport, alongside active travel modes, can continue to reduce emissions in our cities, and for the public to return to bus and rail so that we can lock in the benefits of reduced congestion and cleaner air.”