National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), General secretary Dermot O’Leary has called on the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to meet with the union to discuss proposals to increase public transport capacity to 50 per cent.
Under the easing of Level 5 measures, public transport capacity may increase from 25 per cent to 50 and is no longer reserved for essential travel.
Mr O’Leary speaking today on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show said he feared the situation could end up “in the appalling vista” that had occurred in London when transport workers had lost their lives because of Covid-19.
Mr O’Leary highlighted concerns that drivers may face abuse from passengers who did not wish to comply with current restrictions, including capacity limits and the wearing of face coverings.
Mr O’Leary added the 50 per cent capacity included standing room, not just seats, saying some passengers would not be prepared to stand, breaching social distancing measures in order to take a seat rather than stand.
Mr O’Leary said there was anecdotal evidence from NBRU members that people were also closing the windows on public transport because of the colder weather, despite the advice being that windows should remain open.
Staggered opening times for retail outlets would help ease congestion on public transport, he added.
Mr O’Leary said he hoped the issue would be taken seriously by the Minister as it was not acceptable to have his members “dictated to.”