NEW park and ride sites could be set up in Fife and more road space given to buses in an attempt to stop people opting for the car instead of public transport.

With lockdown restrictions easing, the Scottish Government want changes – with possible extensions at the Ferrytoll and Halbeath sites and measures to promote walking, cycling or 'wheeling' – brought in as soon as possible.

As physical distancing requirements will likely see capacity on public transport drop to just 10-25 per cent of what it was, Fife Council said there's a need for a "green recovery" amid concerns that increased car use will lead to more traffic congestion and air pollution.

Ken Gourlay, head of assets, transportation and environment, said: "The full range of possible interventions has yet to be established.

"In broad terms, there will be a need for measures that seek to flatten the peak periods of demand for travel, and those which maximise the supply and attractiveness of walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport to reduce and discourage increased use of the private car."

Continued high levels of home working and workplaces varying their operating hours would help alleviate pressure on the transport network, while the council are also considering what changes they can make.

Mr Gourlay added: "Measures to maximise active travel and public transport could include more road space for bus lanes on arterial routes, more ‘bus gates’ and extensions to existing, or temporary additional, park and ride sites."

His report, which will go to the policy and co-ordination committee today (Thursday) said engagement with public transport operators would be "essential".

However, he added: "It should be noted that the public transport sector is under severe financial pressure and is requiring significant government support to ensure that it remains functional and able to support the recovery phase."

Local authorities have been asked to help with the Scottish Government's Transport Transition Plan and, where possible, measures should be programmed for implementation "over the next few weeks".

The aim of the plan is to inform passengers about when and how to access public transport safely, manage travel demand, reinforce physical distancing measures, discourage unnecessary travel, encourage "behavioural changes", stagger journeys to avoid peak times, and inform passengers and road users of busy areas and times to encourage alternative choices.

The Scottish Government said they must also consider the impact on those who are vulnerable and those who are most dependent on public transport.

In response, Fife is part of a newly-established South East of Scotland Transport Transition Group to identify measures to help achieve the aim of the plan and assist the national economic recovery.