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NSW Government releases COVIDSafe public transport plan

May 27, 2020COVID19

Recently the NSW Government announced Public Transport COVID Limitations in regards to:

  • Limit the number of people traveling in busses and train carriages to 12 and 32 respectively,
  • Avoid public transport during peak periods and to quote the NSW Government’s Transport Plan for a COVID safe economy Press Conference Pack, “If you are not already using public transport in the peak, please do NOT start now. Services are already close to capacity to allow for distancing at these times. Off peak times are between 10am and 2pm”, and
  • Introduce ‘No dot, no spot’ distinctive green dots on trains, buses and ferries to show passengers the safest places to sit and stand. ‘No dot, no spot’ could see passengers asked to wait for the next service. School children and people who require assistance, such as those with disability will be given priority access.

Whilst it is understandable that the Government must be seen to be doing something, the need for a good media grab seems to have become more important than substance. Irrespective of how unenforceable it is and without any thought of the consequences to staff, the announcement does raise a number of operational issues for members.

What has been put in place and or communicated to staff who are required to catch public transport to and from their place of work and find there are no “green dots” left for them to use?

  • Are staff not required to abide by the NSW Governments “public spin”?
  • Do the green dots only apply to the public and not staff?
  • Can staff wait for the next train in the hope of finding a free green dot?
  • Should staff contact the supervisor to advise they have not been able to find a spare green dot and thus will be late and or part of their job will need to be covered?
  • If staff are late as a result of having to wait before they find a green dot and have notified their booker on/supervisor will they be signed on as normal or?
  • Do staff have preference over School children and those who require assistance, for surely not!
  • The question also needs to be asked which of the following does not apply to staff?

To quote the Minister on the Today Show when the announcement was made:

“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,” and “We’re just going to test it gradually and be careful as we introduce people back into our workplaces.”

To quote the Trains Info Twitter feed at 4.41pm on the 18/5:

Need to travel on public transport? Green dots will be used to show you the safest places to sit and stand. School children & those who require assistance will be given priority access. Plan your trip to see which services have space available: http://transportnsw.info/covid-19  #NoDotNoSpot

We cannot accept that Government requirements are only aspirational when it comes to staff but enforceable for the traveling public.

The Government cannot just create a good media grab moment to show they are doing something and care yet at the same time, hope the public do not enforce it and or that it does not apply to their employees!

We have written to both NSW Trains and Sydney Trains asking the above question and will advise members once / if responses are received.

Their strategy leaves much to be desired with members not having been consulted on this whatsoever.

“This public transport network has been a disaster from the very beginning and its pre-existing flaws have just been brought to light during this crisis. We’ve always said that there needs to be an overall increase in investment in heavy rail and not just shiny, new toys like the metro. This is just a band aid solution,” said RTBU NSW Loco Division Secretary Bob Hayden.

“It’s so ironic that a government so hell-bent on cutting routes and services once they’d introduced their metro now has to reinstate those services to keep the network going. We know the added pressure all of this puts on our drivers and train staff and we hope that the NSW Government continues to keep their safety at the forefront of their future decisions.”