As Australians prepare to head back to work, over one million Sydneysiders could be left stranded as public transport restrictions come into place to prevent a second wave of COVID-19.
New public transport restrictions in Sydney will see commuter traffic cut by 1.4 million, with a maximum of 12 people allowed on a bus and 32 in a train carriage at any given time.
“What we’re trying to do is avoid the commuter crush, and end up with thousands of people on our public transport crammed in, breathing on each other, and risking the spread of this incredibly traumatic virus we’ve seen spread around the world,” Transport Minister Andrew Constance told Today. “We’re just going to test it gradually and be careful as we introduce people back into our workplaces.”
Sydney’s bus drivers have reportedly been told to accept all passengers, even if they’re at capacity.
According to a Nine Newspapers report, bus drivers received a briefing note that said: “You should advise customers when you have reached capacity under the new physical distancing guidelines but do not refuse them travel.
“Physical distancing may not always be practical, especially in peak periods.”
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The State Transit directive also told the drivers that no schoolchildren should be left at a bus stop “under any circumstances”.
Mr Constance said there has to be “a degree of self-responsibility” among commuters.
“If you see packed networks in the area, please avoid them and don’t risk the spread of the virus,” he said.
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“We don’t want to see a second wave. We don’t want to see bus and train drivers at risk. That’s why we have to give this guidance with the dots and limitations, and hopefully people will respect that.
“We are encouraging those that need to go to work to consider retiming their travel,” he said. “We’re asking those in the inner city to walk or bike. If you feel unwell, don’t go anywhere. Stay at home or get tested.”
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys has indicated there will be no fine for breaking physical distancing on public transport.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT CHANGES IN NSW DURING COVID-19
• Avoid peak-hour travel. Off-peak times are between 10am and 2pm.
• Green dots will be used on trains, buses and ferries to show passengers where to sit and stand to maintain the 1.5-metre social distancing rule.
• 12 people will be allowed on two-door buses in Sydney, 32 commuters on Waratah train carriages, and 245 people on a Freshwater ferry.
• Real-time information on transport apps showing which services have space available.
• The network usually carries up to 2.3 million people daily, the capacity will now be between 550,000 and 600,000 people.
• Buses and trains are already close to capacity during peak hour but light rail and ferry services aren’t.
• Authorities will be able to close a station for up to 20 minutes if platforms become too crowded.
• Deep cleaning and more hand sanitisers rolled out across the transport network.
OTHER TRAVEL OPTIONS
• Event-style parking arrangements in place at Moore Park from next week. More pop-up car park stations are coming.
• Private car park operators will offer deals for all-day parking.
• 10.3 kilometres of six pop-up bike paths to help get people from inner city suburbs riding into work.
• Government working with councils to enhance pedestrian access.
– with AAP