Sydney (Tribune International, NSW State Labor Media Release, 20 May 2020): Advice given to bus drivers on enforcing social distancing rules has changed for the third time in three days as the NSW Government struggles to communicate confusing plans to public servants and the public before school resumes on Monday.
Despite previously being instructed that bus drivers were “not to refuse anyone travel even if they had reached capacity” the advice changed yesterday with new directions indicating that buses would not stop for commuters if they had reached the social distancing limit of 12 people.
It is unclear how bus drivers will deal with circumstances where passengers are set down at crowded bus stops.
“Clearly bus drivers will be put in impossible situations where they will have to instruct commuters not to get on the bus while undertaking their existing duties and responsibilities.” Labor Shadow Minister for Transport Chris Minns said.
Just 24 hours after social distancing rules were enacted across the network, regular breaches of the limits were observed across public transport with more than 12 commuters joining crowded busses and more than 33 rail commuters joining carriages.
“We have been calling for a comprehensive public transport plan for Sydney for the last two weeks, Sydney is weeks behind Paris and London in preparing for this mass movement of people.” Mr Minns said.
The NSW Opposition has been urging the Berejiklian Government to increase peak services wherever possible, begin discussions with major employers about keeping workers at home and deploying marshals across the network to communicate with commuters about safe and unsafe carriages.
Mr Minns said:” We don’t expect miracles from the Government but a clearly articulated plan should have been in place weeks before the announcement about school resuming was released.”
“It is likely that with images of chaos and ineptitude being discussed across the media over the last three days many commuters will wisely stay away from public transport next week.”
“That will ease our worst fears of a transport meltdown, but that is good luck rather than good management” Mr Minns said.
“The message to workers on Monday should be clear, if you can work from home, you should. With the kids clearing out of the house on Monday it will, at least, make Zoom calls less chaotic.”