Private hire and taxi operators in Scotland will have access to a new fund that will help them fit their vehicles with Covid-19-beating equipment such as screens and PPE, as well as air filtration and sterilisation devices and UV cleaning systems.
The new fund, administered by the Energy Savings Trust, is aimed at supporting all public transport operators during the pandemic, with a specific section for taxi and PHV operators. The Covid-19 Public Transport Retrofit Fund is part of a larger Covid-19 Public Transport Mitigation Fund, announced by Transport Scotland last year.
The fund supports the installation of measures needed to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission on vehicles and aims to improve capacity and increase public confidence while on board.
To apply, the vehicles must be licenced in Scotland. All funded vehicles must be currently in operation and must be operational primarily within Scottish local authority areas. A cap of £350 per vehicle applies and applicants may apply for funding to retro-fit up to 25% of their total vehicle fleet, or five vehicles, whichever is greater. Operators can apply for other measures, or to retrofit more vehicles. These applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The application form suggests the money could be spent on items such as hand sanitiser dispensers, easy-clean seat covers, partition screens for PHVs, and automated UV cleaning solutions for card machines.
Applications are being assessed on an ongoing, first-come-first-served basis until funding is fully allocated or the end of the financial year, whichever is first.
There are no restrictions on what could qualify as an enhanced measure, and the website for the scheme says applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and assessed in terms of efficacy, cost, and ease of use.
It goes on to list examples that could be considered by operators:
Air quality and ventilation – installation or improvement of air conditioning units; installation of high-performance filtration systems.
Sterilisation technologies – hygienic surface coatings; UV cleaning solutions; innovative solutions based on the use of UV light to disinfect surfaces.
Mobile/digital solutions – Use of real time occupancy application, to monitor and receive details of passenger capacity within vehicles in real time.
The scheme could allow operators to purchase devices such as the AirBubbl air filtration device (pictured), or the Sany Car ozone sanitisation machine.
Applicants must not purchase any measures before receiving a formal grant offer letter from Energy Saving Trust. If you do so, your application will be refused, though micro-businesses (including sole traders) that have installed and paid for measures between April 6 and October 8, 2020 may be eligible for retrospective payments.
To apply for the scheme, please visit https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/grants-and-loans/covid-19-public-transport-retrofit-fund/