Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), is urging the government to convene a transport sector summit on tackling the Coronavirus as soon as possible.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, he said: “We need a coordinated response across the public transport network on how we tackle the threat that this virus poses.”
His plans for the summit would be to put measures in place that would reassure transport workers and passengers so that trains, buses, trains and trams could keep running up and down Britain.
“We want to ensure our transport networks are resilient in the face of a possible epidemic and urgently need consistent advice and a pro-active plan of action for public transport,” he continued, telling Shapps that the transport network needs a “much more detailed response to the virus given the crucial role it plays in the economy and society, and the potential to spread – or minimise the spread – of the virus.”
Cortes also asks the government to look into prevention measures, including “the possibility of cleaning teams conducting overnight deep cleans of train carriages and stations, focusing on frequent touch areas such as handrails and ticket machines.”
“Can hand sanitiser be made available at all stations and on-board trains?” he asks. “Can the public address systems be used to give passengers practical tips? How can key routes be kept open?’
Commenting on his letter, Manuel Cortes said: “We are very happy to work with the government to make sure everything possible is done to protect people as they move around the country on public transport.
“It’s essential that Grant Shapps convenes this summit in the next few days so that experts across the industry can get a real grip of the situation. We must do all we can now to keep travel routes open – millions depend on us doing so.
“Of course, this is a public health matter first and foremost, but privatisation is frankly adding risk to the situation. Our privatised and fractured railways network system is of very little help in terms of a strong and fully coordinated response to an emerging crisis.”
The letter calls for the input from representatives of each devolved administration, Metro Mayors, train operators, trade unions and medical experts at the summit.