How the transport and fleet community is assisting the frontline
The transport and fleet community has come together to assist frontline responders during the coronavirus crisis.
As part of a formalised initiative, the Department for Transport (DfT) has established a Transport Support Unit (TSU), which sees transport firms volunteer their vehicles, drivers and services to assist during the coronavirus pandemic.
Those that have offered support include the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, who have offered vehicles including four fixed-wing aircraft, one of them a Boeing 737. They can be made available for tasks including moving emergency patients and medical supplies.
Highways England have agreed to release control vehicles for potential use as mobile COVID-19 testing centres.
Network Rail, with the eighth largest commercial vehicle fleet in the country, has 8,500 vans and lorries which can be used to transport essential items during the crisis. It is making available its seven regional distribution centres which can be used for COVID-19 related supplies.
The DfT, its agencies or the wider transport sector have made more than 8,500 staff available to volunteer to help in the crisis.
The DfT has set up a dedicated email inbox so that organisations requiring this type of assistance can contact the TSU directly.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: "Now more than ever we need to work closely together, and the new Transport Support Unit stands ready to help our frontline staff and deliver crucial supplies."
Transport firms in Scotland have been drafted in to help people with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms attend urgent but non-emergency medical appointments.
The Scottish Government, NHS Boards, and Scotland’s business community have been working to make vehicles and drivers available to COVID-19 symptomatic patients who are well enough to travel but do not have access to a car and are unable to use public transport to reach their local COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre.
So far The Scottish Government has received more than 100 offers of support from businesses across Scotland to help move people and goods, and it is working with health boards to explore and take advantage of these opportunities.
Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: "While we are asking people wherever possible to look after themselves at home, when symptoms do worsen or become unmanageable patients may be asked to attend their local Community Assessment Centre. This can be challenging where a person is well enough to travel but has no access to their own transport and is not allowed to use public transport.
“These new patient transport services will be in line with social distancing measures and make it easier for people to get the right help at the right time which will also reduce pressure on hospital admissions.
“The patient driver services are a fantastic example of Scotland pulling together to respond to COVID-19 and I must give thanks to all those who have volunteered their services so far. I am particularly grateful to Arnold Clark for volunteering a fleet of vehicles to our Health Boards, car hire companies for their offers of support, and the taxi industry for engaging so positively with us to secure additional capacity if and where needed."
Logistics professionals are categorised as "key workers" in the government's COVID-19 response plans. While many business are able to work from home and not expose workers to the dangers of the pandemic, the logistics industry has been working tirelessly to enable the country to function, whether that's replenishing food stocks at supermarkets, or delivery vital medicine and protective gear to the frontline.
It really does highlight how important the transport sector is - from the management of fleets, the maintenance of vehicles, to the drivers themselves - it's a slick operation that the country depends on.
To help the logistics industry during this time, the FTA launched portal allowing its members to share and discuss the resource they require during the pandemic. This follows its #LogisticsHelpsLogistics, a social media campaign allowing businesses to fill staff shortfalls or identify vehicles with capacity.
Nissan and its UK dealer network is providing more than 100 cars for NHS workers should their normal mode of transport be compromised.
The vehicles on offer include the electric Nissan LEAF, and the dealer will provide free access to the dealer’s charging facility.
MG Motor UK meanwhile is supplying up to 100 fully-electric MG ZS EVs to NHS agencies across the UK free of charge, to support the national effort to overcome COVID-19. The first six cars have already been supplied to Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust by MG dealer Chorley Group.
MG Motor and DriveElectric have supplied Haringey Council with MG ZS electric vehicles to deliver essential supplies to where they are needed the most. So far, the vehicles have been used to deliver over 700 food parcels to families across Haringey with the support of hundreds of local volunteers.
ENGIE has announced that its nationwide GeniePoint Network will be free to use for all key workers during the Covid-19 crisis.
Mobility for NHS staff
Private hire operator Addison Lee has partnered with coach platform Zeelo to enable up to 10,000 vehicles to provide transport and logistics to support hospitals and healthcare workers in London through the Coronavirus outbreak. The partnership includes a multi-fleet offer of coaches, cars and delivery vans, managed through a central technology platform and operations team.
Europcar Mobility Group has launched the "Together" programme to support the mobility of workers in emergency service sectors.
As part of this programme, the Group will also work in partnership with retailers and other businesses, offering a rental service of light commercial vehicles with drivers. This is designed to help meet the increased demand for logistics and delivery services in countries under lockdown or with stringent social-distancing measures.
All vehicles undergo new cleaning protocols between rentals using chemical sanitiser to protect the safety of customers and employees.
Europcar Mobility Group UK has also supplied 61 vehicles to MOD paramedics who have been drafted in to support South Central Ambulance Service during the COVID-19 pandemic. The MOD paramedics need transport to enable them to move between their barracks and South Central’s assigned ambulance centres.
The AA has partnered with London Ambulance Service to provide additional support to help keep clinicians on the road during the coronavirus epidemic. The partnership includes 24-hour breakdown and incident management services such as roadside assistance and vehicle recovery for London Ambulance Service vehicles.
The AA has also launched a free breakdown service for NHS workers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. NHS staff who break down on their way to or from work will be able to call for help, whether or not they are an AA member. The service, which is available to anyone with an NHS ID, includes free recovery to and from work as well as help if they break down at home.
Groupe PSA has also announced that its Roadside Assistance programme has been extended for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic to all NHS workers who currently drive a Peugeot, Citroën, DS Automobiles or Vauxhall vehicle and do not already have any mechanical breakdown cover.
IVECO is supporting various local initiatives across Europe to address the challenges raised by the coronavirus pandemic. In Italy, IVECO has donated five Daily vehicles to the RED CROSS office in Piedmont for use until the end of November 2020. The vehicles have been prepared, sanitized and handed over ready to fight the spread of COVID-19. IVECO is also providing the non-profit voluntary healthcare organisation “Soccorso dell'Ordine di San Giovanni in Italia” (Sezione di Ciriè) the use of three vehicles free of charge to support its activities.
In Finland, IVECO has donated the use of a brand-new IVECO Daily ambulance to Helsinki University Hospital for the next three months. The ambulance will transport Covid-19 patients to the hospital.