The ACT Government has vowed to keep the buses and light rail running for essential workers but has told other commuters to only take public transport when it is absolutely necessary.
The new COVID-19 advice comes with a range of measures to encourage social distancing and new measures have been implemented from today to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers.
To avoid unnecessary close interactions with the public, drivers will no longer accept cash so passengers should use MyWay cards or pre-purchased tickets from ticket vending machines when using public transport.
Passengers will only be able to enter and exit buses via the rear doors at all stops unless the front doors are required for low-floor access.
The front seats of buses will temporarily be closed off to keep drivers and passengers well apart.
Transport Minister Chris Steel also announced today that the network timetable update, slated for the start of Term 2, would be delayed until further notice.
He said it was not the ideal time to introduce the timetable changes so Transport Canberra would continue to operate the current bus and light rail timetable to avoid creating confusion.
However, plans are being prepared should there be a need to reduce services due to COVID-19. He said some services may be affected if drivers need to stay at home to care for children.
Mr Steel said journeys were down 21.9 per cent last week compared to the same week last year.
“This shows that people are doing the right thing with social distancing or staying at home,” he said.
Today’s advice should reduce public transport patronage even further.
“People who don’t need to use public transport should reconsider whether they need to use it and practise social distancing,” Mr Steel said.
“So don’t use it to get on the beers at your mate’s house and definitely do not use it if you are feeling sick or unwell.”
He defined essential travel as going to work, travelling to buy food or attending medical appointments.
He said that if anybody had COVID-19 symptoms, met the criteria and had no other means of transport to get to a testing centre, they should contact Health Direct on 1800 022 222 to arrange alternative transport.
Mr Steel said public transport around the world was still running to provide essential transport.
“We need to be practical, but the message today is that if you don’t need to use it then you shouldn’t,” he said.