Willie Rennie’s concern for “knackered” Fife commuters

Two weeks into the closure of the Forth Road Bridge, Willie Rennie has told the Scottish Transport Minister that more needs to be done to support commuters who are facing delays of up to two hours each way in their daily commute.

He quoted some of the problems people are facing:

I drive from Dalgety Bay to Bo’ness and have found myself getting frustrated by being forced into huge queues over Clackmannan bridge then joining light traffic coming over Kincardine. My mileage has also been trebled which is an issue financially. Surely it would make sense to allow cars to use the A985 from 7.00pm to 6.00am and all weekend as a starting point to ease local residents misery on this.”

“My main problem is time -up at 4.40 and leave work at 15.15. Travelling 4 hours.”

“Absolute disaster and a total shambles. Two weeks on and completely inadequate. Platforms overflowing. Insufficient coaches available to cater for the masses caught woefully short by the inadequacies caused by the Scottish Government. Increased cancellations. Promises not kept. People falling ill on overcrowded trains due to lack of space and resultant lack of ventilation. Cancellations. Delays.”

Willie is worried about the cumulative effects of these delays on travellers at a time of year when the dark nights and weather conditions don’t make for easy driving conditions. He said:

Thousands of people have been in touch with me over the last week to tell me the problems they face with the closure of the bridge. Their feelings have transformed from anger to exhaustion.

They are knackered with all the extra hours of travel and the elongated working days. People can cope with an extra two hours on the working day as a one off but we are now well into the second week. It isn’t sustainable and it is not safe. The dark, wet, cold morning pose a real risk at normal times.

I want employers to be extra vigilant and provide support for any workers who are showing signs of exhaustion. I also want the government to ease restrictions on the A985 which is currently only for lorries, buses and vans during the day. It would make a difference if the restrictions were to be lifted so that all vehicles could use the road during the off peak daytime periods.

One possible solution would be to open up the A985, which runs across West Fife to the Kincardine Bridge to all vehicles during the off-peak periods of the day. It surely has to be worth a try.

I think it’s good that Willie is concentrating on trying to improve the current situation. He’s laid down a couple of markers for how the inevitable enquiry into this should eventually proceed, but his focus has been on making things easier for commuters. I particularly worry about those who are in low-paid jobs where they don’t have a lot of power in the organisation. If you are a senior manager, you may well be able to persuade your employer to let you work from home. If you are waiting on tables, or working in a care home, your employer may not be so understanding so the appeal to them is important.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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