Increase in use of face coverings on transport, but union chief says ‘enforcement resources’ needed

Increase in use of face coverings on transport, but union chief says ‘enforcement resources’ needed
Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

While there has been an increase in the number of people using face coverings on public transport, the General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), Dermot O’Leary says there is room for improvement and he is calling for dedicated enforcement resources on trains and buses.

The wearing of face coverings has become compulsory on all public transport services as part of efforts to increase capacity on buses, trains, and trams from around 20 per cent to about 50 per cent.

New figures from the National Transport Authority (NTA) show three in four people are now wearing face coverings on Bus Éireann city services in Cork.

On Bus Éireann commuter services in the Greater Dublin Area, compliance is running between 75 per cent on some services and 98 per cent on others.

The NTA say while the rate in Limerick and Galway is lower at 40 per cent, it is increasing significantly day-on-day.

Iarnród Éireann has reported that 60 per cent of passengers arriving and departing from Heuston Station, which runs services to and from Cork, are using face coverings, a significant increase on previous weeks.

"The feedback coming in from operators suggests that on the whole, passengers are wearing face coverings. This is vital for the increase in capacity to make sense from a public health point of view, so that more people can safely return to work," said Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority.

Mr O’ Leary meanwhile stressed that transport operators are keen to get people back on public transport, and said this is one of the reasons why they have been highlighting the need for people to wear masks on buses and trains.

He said however that the issue raises the question of who is or who is not responsible for enforcing the rules.

“Our members are not gardaí. We need gardai or a dedicated resource on the ground to enforce it,” he told the Echo.

Mr O'Leary said that while a lot of work has been done to get to this level of compliance, there is a lot more work to do.


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