Coronavirus: public transport concerns raised during FMQs

Today (March 10) in First Minister’s Questions, the Leader of the Opposition – Paul Davies AM/AC – reminded Members that there are six confirmed cases in Wales, adding the caveat that this figure is expected to rise.

He pressed the First Minister particularly about public transport, and its potential role as being a vector for the transmission of Coronavirus.

Mr Davies said:

“There’s very little guidance or information around using the public transport network, particularly given that research published in the British Medical Council Infectious Diseases found that those using public transport during ‘flu outbreaks were up to six times more likely to pick up an acute respiratory infection.”

Noting that travelling on the public transport network is essential for many people, Mr Davies said that “valid concerns around public transport” exist, as there are often high numbers of people travelling in overcrowded train carriages, poor ventilation, and a lack of hygiene facilities on board as well.

He asked what discussions had taken place with public transport operators across Wales about how passengers can be made as safe as possible when travelling, and what resources are being offered to public transport operators to ensure that they have what they need to ensure that their vehicles and stations are as clean and safe as possible.

Speaking later, Mr Davies said:

“Coronavirus is expected to have an impact on all our lives at some point, and that point is likely to be soon, with current research suggesting a peak in the number of cases in the next two to three months.

“Let me be clear: This is too important an issue to do anything but work with Members from all other parties. An holistic approach to dealing with Coronavirus by all parties, by all departments, and by all administrations in the devolved nations, and in the UK as a whole, is essential.

“Therefore, I welcomed the responses the First Minister gave today, just as I am pleased that the UK Government and the Welsh Government have worked together on legislation to strengthen the Welsh Government's powers on matters like quarantining and mass gatherings

“However, we Welsh Conservatives will be monitoring how effective these policies and approaches are in Wales, particularly on public transport. I have heard first-hand of people using Transport for Wales services, who found no soap and not even any hot water in the train’s WCs.

“People attempting to maintain their own high standards of personal hygiene when using public transport count for little if they have not the basic facilities to achieve this, and so I urge the Minster for Transport to ensure that all rail services and stations will be kept clean and stocked with the basics of soap and hot water.”