Passenger Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation

Masks now the new normal on more rail systems

face masks public transport

Face masks and coverings are becoming an increasingly common feature on transportation networks across Australia.

In January, both NSW and Queensland moved to make face masks mandatory for those travelling on public transport in greater Sydney and Brisbane, including when waiting for a service at a station or stop.

These jurisdictions followed mask-wearing mandates instituted in Melbourne and New Zealand, which have continued during periods of low or non-existent community transmission.

Announcing the change in January, in a joint statement, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Brad Hazzard said the change would enable life to continue without the threat of infection.

“Given the general risk in Greater Sydney, new measures are required to reduce the transmission potential of COVID-19 while maintaining economic activity.”

Reported compliance with the mask wearing directive is around 90 per cent and Transport for NSW is using a number of measures to track adherence to the new rules, a spokesperson said.

“Transport for NSW continues to monitor network patronage and customer behaviour using CCTV, COVID marshalling officers on the ground and anecdotal data from staff on the network.”

Enforcement of the measure is the responsibility of NSW Police and as of January 12, 34 infringement notices had been issued, with many for people not wearing masks on trains.

Those living in greater Brisbane are advised to carry a mask with them at all times and must wear one while on public transport or waiting at a stop.

“Wearing a mask is currently mandatory on public transport services in Greater Brisbane and enforcement is the responsibility of the Queensland Police Service,” said Queensland Rail acting CEO Kat Stapleton.

“Queensland Rail is continuing to remind customers to practice social distancing through regular announcements at stations and on board and through our social media channels. We have also provided hand sanitiser at every station across South East Queensland.”

While the lockdown affecting the city and surrounding region lifted on January 11, mask wearing continues to be required.

In addition to face coverings, transport authorities are continuing to encourage social distancing through providing information on service capacity and reducing touch points such as cash payments.

Extra cleaning has also continued to be a part of normal operations for transport providers, with Queensland Rail enlisting a fogging service to disinfect trains fortnightly.

“Since March, we have tripled the number of staff focused on cleaning high traffic stations in morning and afternoon peak times, including South Bank, South Brisbane, Roma Street, Central, Fortitude Valley and Bowen Hills,” said Stapleton.

In NSW, capacity restrictions that were reduced in December remained in place throughout the most recent series of cases.

For commuters in South East Queensland, 105 extra train services per week have been introduced, to assist with social distancing and ensure essential workers can get to work.