With social distancing likely to be the norm over the next two years, the notion of sardine-packing residents into trains, buses and trams is obviously no longer viable if Australia is to contain outbreaks of COVID-19.
Indeed, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has recommended state residents who use public transport should “consider different ways to get to work” given “constraints” on capacity during peak hours as social distancing is observed:
“In the past we would have encouraged everybody onto the public transport network but in the COVID environment, we’ll ask you to consider getting dropped off,” she said.
“Buses and trains are pretty much at capacity during the peak so you might want to think about a different way you do your route in the morning.”
This has led to concerns about Australia’s major cities becoming overrun with traffic congestion as lockdowns ease:
Transport experts have warned Sydney’s road network is unlikely to cope if everyone swaps their bus or train commute for a car.
“We are looking at basically ‘carmageddon’, where all the roads are full with the people that were on buses and trains [but are now] in cars,” University of Technology transport expert Mathew Hounsell said…
“There will be roughly 800,000 people now needing to travel without using public transport, they can’t all go onto the roads,” Mr Hounsell said.
Sydney’s and Melbourne’s transport systems were already operating at breaking point before COVID-19, thanks to 15 years of extreme immigration-driven population growth. Clearly, they will not be able to cope with a sudden surge of travellers on roads.
The only solution is for a large chunk of the population to continue working from home.