By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy QLD State Government

UNDER THE AUSPICES of a Queensland State Government Covid ‘travel plan’, more peak-hour buses and trains will be rolled out next month to support social distancing on south-east Queensland public transport, it’s been announced

“We expect more people to return to public transport over the next few weeks," said Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.

The latest phase of the Palaszczuk Government’s Covid-19 Safe Public Transport Plan will put an extra 960 buses and 105 trains into service between Monday and Friday, from 10 August, 2020.

Hand sanitiser will also be provided to commuters at busy train and bus stations under the plan, the government confirms.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says public transport patronage was down about 50 per cent compared to the same time last year, but numbers were expected to climb as university classes resumed and CBD offices re-opened.

"Public transport is safe in Queensland," Minister Bailey said.

"We have no community transmission here and active cases are in single digits, so our buses, trains, trams and ferries are safe.

"But now is not the time to become complacent.

"We expect more people to return to public transport over the next few weeks.

"We don’t expect those numbers to immediately climb back to where they were before Covid-19 arrived, but we still want to spread passengers out as much as we can, and these extra services will help do that.

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"This boost to morning and afternoon peak services will add almost 58,000 extra seats on buses and trains.

"The plan is to roll out the extra buses until the end of the school year and then assess patronage levels.

"If the demand is there, we will consider if these bus services should become permanent for the longer term.

"The good news for train commuters is the 21 weekly services we’re adding will become permanent additions to the timetable across seven lines," he explained.

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Minister Bailey says the latest phase of the Covid-19 Safe Public Transport Plan aims to give commuters more options and greater peace of mind on public transport.

"A few weeks ago, we started the Reboot Your Commute campaign to encourage people to start thinking differently about how, when and where they work," he said.

"Even with people making changes to their daily commute, we’re still seeing about 330,000 daily passenger trips on the network, as of last week.

"That’s why we’re adding more bus and train services to extend peak commuting times, which will allow us to spread passenger loads out across the mornings and afternoons."

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Temporary hand sanitiser stations located at entry and exit points would be progressively rolled out at busy bus stops and all 152 train stations in south east Queensland from 10 August, the government confirms.

"The hand sanitiser will be an extra option for passengers to practise personal hygiene, adding to the rigorous cleaning and sanitisation programs we’ve been running since March on public transport vehicles, stations and transport depots," Minister Bailey said.

"We’re also continuing rear boarding on buses where possible and keeping payments cashless in SEQ to minimise contact between passengers and drivers.

"Commuters have done an excellent job following the health advice, using common sense and social distancing where practical, and we need everyone to keep it up.

"As more passengers return to public transport, we’re asking everyone to leave a gap, keep it clean by following health advice and adjust your travel to avoid travelling in peak periods if possible," he explained.

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