UITP, IRU, POLIS, EUROCITIES AND CER ASKING FOR ONGOING SUPPORT
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has urged UITP, IRU, Polis, EuroCities and CER to write a letter to the European Commission, calling for the ongoing support of the sector now, and in the times that lie ahead. The organizations write in the letter that “maintaining a specific service within the public transport sector is vital”.
“In order to ensure continuity, the competent authorities have to guarantee the availability of the relevant medical equipment and products to the public transport and local mobility operators to protect the health and safety of their employees, as well as their passengers”, is amongst others what UITP, IRU, Polis, EuroCities and CER have written to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and David Maria Sassoli, President of the European Parliament,
They emphasize some best practices that are already in place by public transport and local mobility stakeholders in several countries:
– Provide staff with hand sanitising products and other appropriate means to limit the spread of the virus;
– Regular deep cleaning and disinfection of transport vehicles and assets such as ticketing devices;
– Limit the interactions of drivers with passengers (for example no cash ticket sales onboard, allowing rear-door boarding only);
– Adapt the level of service (e.g. night services and school services are suspended in some cities);
– Provide dedicated services to healthcare personnel and any other category of personnel falling under essential services;
– Temporarily release from active service, staff members with a higher risk of infection (e.g. older staff members over 60, people with a chronic health condition, etc.).
UITP, IRU, Polis, EuroCities and CER are warning for the economic and financial impact of the pandemic on the urban and local mobility sector. “Based on the first available data, for example from Italy, Spain, France or Germany, we can be sure that the local passenger transport sector’s ecosystem will be heavily affected. The impact relates mainly to the decrease in revenues (in some cities the reduction in patronage reaches 85%) and the additional costs needed to disinfect and implement social distancing measures in transport vehicles and infrastructure”.
The organizations are stating they especially welcome the Commission’s proposal to activate the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact. “We call therefore on the Council to endorse the Commission proposal: budgetary flexibility is crucial to allow Member States and competent local authorities in charge of mobility to respond adequately to this crisis.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also said it is reflecting on aid measures that deviate from its traditional emergency loans, because of the corona crisis. "We are in an unprecedented situation where a global health pandemic has become an economic and financial crisis," said IMF chief executive Kristalina Georgieva in a statement.