All public transport commuters in the south east will need to use a go card or pay for tickets using station fare machines from today.
Passengers will no longer have the option to pay cash on south east Queensland trains, trams, ferries and buses to promote better social distancing during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said phasing out cash payments would speed up boarding and reduce contact between drivers and passengers.
“By temporarily stopping cash payments, we’re aiming to avoid queues as people search for change to pay their fare and give customers more space to practice social distancing when they board,” Mr Bailey said.
“We’re close to trialling smart ticketing technology, but our buses aren’t equipped to accept contactless payments from credit cards or mobile devices yet.
“While the health advice says it is good hygiene practise to wash your hands after handling cash, this decision is a further precaution to support the health and safety of frontline transport staff and our customers.”
Mr Bailey said the cashless measure would be applied on services where there is capacity to do so and run until 31 December 2020, with decisions to cut short or extend the trial dependent on the wider COVID-19 containment response.
“Almost 90 per cent of all public transport trips in SEQ are paid for with go cards, so this change won’t impact the majority of our customers,” Mr Bailey said.
“Customers who use paper tickets will need to change their habits, especially those who prefer paying cash.
“To help with this change, TransLink will supply community groups that support seniors and other vulnerable commuters with a limited number of pre-loaded go cards and provide them with assistance in showing commuters how to use them.
“For an initial period, drivers will be given discretion to allow passengers to travel when they state they have not been able get a go card, and TransLink will monitor that.
“The change will also mean cheaper fares for these commuters too because go card fares are around 30 per cent cheaper than a single paper ticket.”
TransLink is also working with bus operators to provide additional protection for bus drivers, by blocking off the front row of seats on board vehicles and disabling the go card reader nearest the driver.
Some operators whose buses have a rear door and front door, will also restrict entry and exit to the rear door.
Mr Bailey said catching public transport was safe and called on commuters to seek out and follow the latest health advice.
He said TransLink was exploring similar arrangements for regional public transport services.
Mr Bailey TransLink would also work with Education Queensland and school bus operators to look at ways to enhance health and safety on school services too.
“We’re following the best advice available from Queensland Health and Federal health authorities,” he said.
“The current advice says there is no need to reduce public transport services.
“Patronage has dropped on many services in the past fortnight so there is more space for customers to separate and of course they should do that wherever possible.
“This is a dynamic situation. Advice can change at short notice, and we’re ready to act quickly.
“We’ve been planning for this since we first became aware of the potential impacts of a pandemic.
“I have directed Queensland Rail and TransLink to increase their cleaning programs.
“More cleaning staff have been recruited to disinfect trains, trams, buses and ferries every day in South East Queensland.
“Surfaces at stations, including hand-rails and lift buttons, are also being cleaned.”
Mr Bailey said health and safety should be everyone’s priority as we work together to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Commuters should practise good hygiene, wash or sanitise their hands regularly and limit personal contact where possible,” he said.
‘If you’re sick or showing symptoms of illness, please stay home and avoid public spaces.”
Customers who don’t own a go card can buy one from over 680 locations across SEQ such as at 7 elevens, Night Owls, staffed train stations.
Go card stock will be increased at retailers to ensure shortages aren’t experienced.