Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
267. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the new protocols in place to guide best practice in the Covid-19 context for public transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44443/20]
As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public passenger transport services nationally. Continued operation of the public transport sector is important, and public transport was designated amongst the essential services that have continued to operate during the Covid crisis. I would like to thank all operators and their staff for their continued dedication to providing this vital service in such challenging times. A number of measures have been introduced across the system, guided by public health advice, to ensure the safe operation of services during the pandemic, including enhanced cleaning regimes and social distancing measures across the network.
The Government's "Living with Covid" Plan sets out capacity guidance for public transport at each of the 5 risk levels identified in the Plan and provides guidance for the public about using public transport at the different risk levels: including that wearing face coverings is mandatory, and encouraging the use of off-peak services and sustainable active travel alternative options, where feasible.
The country moved from Level 5 of the Plan to Level 3 on December 1st, meaning that public transport moved from using 25% to 50% of vehicle capacity. With the resumption of retail, some hospitality and other activities, demand for public transport has increased and social distancing measures continue to restrict capacity. The NTA has advised customers to continue to only use public transport for necessary journeys and to avoid peak-time travel. The advice is aimed at ensuring public transport is safeguarded for those who need it most, including front-line workers and students.
Both my Department and the NTA are closely monitoring public transport demand and will continue to be guided by public health advice.