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Government should consider limiting or banning public transport, expert claims

Government should consider limiting or banning public transport, expert claims

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced plans to recruit more cleaners for Victoria’s public transport to curb the spread of coronavirus, but experts say the government should consider more drastic measures including a complete shutdown of the network.

Professor Bruce Thompson, who is the Dean of Swinburne University’s School of Health Sciences, said the Victorian government should consider expanding its social distancing measuresacross the public transport network.

Back in January, the Chinese government shut down public transport in Wuhan to control the spread of COVID-19 but some services are beginning to resume as the city’s infection rate continues to drop.

While Premier Dan Andrews announced plans to recruit more cleaners for Victoria’s public transport to curb the spread of the virus, Prof Thompson said the real risk that public transport poses is human to human transfer.

“There’s the concept of trying to limit the spread of the virus in any way we possibly can and now we’re getting to the point of essential services,” he said.

“It’s a hard one. It makes a lot of sense to say we either need to limit public transport travel or just take it out of the equation.

Few commuters are seen at Flinders Street station.

Rather than stopping all public transport, Prof Thomspon said that adding limits to the number of passengers allowed to travel at any one time would also help.

“Limiting the amount of people that get on a train carriage or bus at any one time is one way around it,” he said.

“We could run it but have a limited capacity. It’s starting to happen anyway, people are working from home and travelling less.

“It’s going to happen by its own accord and if we ban it all together, it’s an essential service but that’s a decision the government will have to make.”

When contacted by the Herald Sun, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said they will continue to operate public transport across Victoria as normal.

However, they admitted that tighter restrictions could be around the corner for passengers.

“We’ve seen an overall reduction in the number of people using the public transport network as more people opt to work from home,” a Department of Transport spokesperson said.

“As part of our planning for possible scenarios, there may be a need to make changes to public transport services

“This will only be done following expert medical advice, and any changes will be communicated to well ahead of time.”