Commuters are being warned to avoid taking public transport in peak hours to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a press conference on Friday, May 15, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that people should not get on buses and trains in the state unless necessary.
“We don’t want any more people at this stage catching public transport in the peak. If you’re not already on the bus or train in the morning do not catch public transport,” she said.
Throughout the lockdown period NSW has run trains to a normal schedule to maintain capacity so that passengers can social distance, however with more workplaces opening up and people returning to work, there are concerns about the number of people on the services. Berejiklian said limiting passenger numbers would help to limit the spread.
“And I stress that strongly because we know overseas public transport was the main reason why the disease spread. At this stage we are maintaining good social distancing but we’re going to be very strict about that.”
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that current patronage levels were reaching the capacity limits set to ensure physical distancing on public transport.
“Everyone will need to maintain physical distancing during this pandemic,” said Constance.
“That means if you are not already using public transport during the peak times, please do not use public transport during peak periods.”
Transport for NSW and Sydney Trains have put in extra measures to reduce crowding on services, including communication campaigns and managing numbers at stations using Opal gates.
“We will be monitoring patronage and have staff at key locations across the metropolitan area to assist customers,” said Constance.
A ‘no dot, no spot’ campaign will be used on trans to indicate where the safest places to sit and stand are. If a service is full, passengers will be asked to wait. Data will also be used to communicate what services have space via apps, social media and Transport Info.
Commuters in Adelaide were also asked to avoid using public transport. Travellers on the Gawler Line have been experiencing crowding partly due to 50 of the city’s 70 diesel trains being taken out of service due to a mechanical fault. South Australia chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier told local radio that crowded public transport should be avoided.
“I think it would be much safer to avoid getting on any public transport where you can’t do the social distancing,” she said.
Some jurisdictions around Australia have been encouraging commuters to use more active modes of transport such as walking or cycling to counter overcrowding on public transport and roads once work patterns begin to return to pre-COVID-19 norms.