News Coronavirus NSW train stations could close under strict virus crackdown

NSW train stations could close under strict virus crackdown

nsw public transport virus
NSW has introduced strict social distancing measures for public transport. Photo: AAP
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Busy train stations in NSW could be closed and a maximum of 12 people will be allowed on buses under coronavirus social-distancing rules introduced by the state government.

The government has also slashed the service’s peak capacity – down from 2.3 million people daily to between 550,000 and 600,000 people.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, despite a massive reduction in patronage amid the coronavirus pandemic, Sydney’s public transport network was already at capacity in peak periods, when social-distancing was taken into account.

On Friday, it’s estimated about 570,000 commuters used public transport in the Harbour City.

But as the state’s coronavirus shutdown is eased, the number of people on buses, trains, light rail, metros and ferries is increasing.

In response, the state government announced it would cap the number of people permitted on the network at any one time.

A maximum of 12 people will be allowed on buses, while only 32 passengers will be allowed on each train carriage.

Ferries will be allowed to carry 45 commuters at a time.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said he would like people to “self-regulate first and foremost”, but that transport police would also be enforcing the new caps.

“In terms of policing measures that we can put in place, we do have the capacity to look at the numbers of people who are on train platforms and entering stations,” he said.

“If we have to close the station for 15 to 20 minutes, we got that option.”

Mr Constance warned buses that were at capacity would drive past stops with waiting passengers.

The government has also urged people to travel between 10am-2pm to avoid peak-hour crowds.

In other measures:

  • 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
  • Deep cleaning and more hand sanitisers will be rolled out across the transport network
  • Event-style parking arrangements will be 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 will be installed to help get people from inner-city suburbs riding into work
  • The state government is also working with councils to enhance pedestrian access.

“Ultimately people are going to opt to drive because it’s safe,” Mr Constance said.

“I could sit here and say there won’t be congestion on the roads but I’d be misleading you – there is. That’s why we want people to re-time their days.

“These are tough days – I know this is hard.”

The new restrictions come as health authorities in NSW confirmed one new coronavirus death, taking Australia’s total to 99.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said the man in his 60s had underlying health conditions and died in hospital.

She said the man was a close contact of a known case.

In the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday NSW confirmed one new coronavirus case – a returning overseas traveller – from almost 6000 tests.

A total of 48 people have died from coronavirus in NSW.

-with agencies