Urgent response needed to avoid Phase 2 public transport chaos - Darren O'Rourke TD
Sinn Féin TD for Meath East Darren O'Rourke has called on Government to ensure additional buses are in place on Monday to meet increased public transport demand as thousands of people return to work in Phase 2 of the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.
Teachta O'Rourke made the comments following widespread reports of commuters left stranded at bus-stops during Phase 1 and the acknowledgement by Anne Graham of the National Transport Authority that public transport use was already ahead of projected levels.
"There is a clear sense that our public transport services, particularly our bus services, will be overwhelmed in Phase 2. There are already widespread reports of buses at maximum capacity leaving commuters stranded. There are also reports of difficulty maintaining and policing social distancing restrictions on board and at stops and terminals.
"This week at the Covid-19 Committee, Anne Graham CEO of the NTA acknowledged that public transport use was already ahead of projected levels and that some of the reserve capacity expected for Phase 2 had already been used in Phase 1.
"The situation will get worse if there isn't an immediate and appropriate intervention. Now is the time to add additional capacity in order to alleviate pressure.
"It is quite clear that Government advice to walk or cycle and to only use public transport where essential has not taken adequate account of the volume of people who rely on public transport and who do not have an alternative means of travel.
"There is a need a comprehensive response to deal with Covid-19 transport challenges. The establishment of a Transport Recovery Taskforce can help play a role in addressing this. Firstly though, we need an immediate address of capacity and public health challenges.
"We need additional buses and we need mandatory face-coverings for all passengers and drivers, with limited exceptions. The comments of Dr. David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation today serve to further emphasise this point. In both regards, time is of the absolute essence."