19 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: Public transport providers feeling vulnerable - union

6:04 pm on 19 March 2020

NZ Bus staff are feeling vulnerable as people are encouraged to continue using public transport during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, according to the union.

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Photo: Facebook / NZ Bus

Yesterday, Auckland Transport announced new hygiene procedures to protect its workers and customers from the spread of Covid-19.

The new measures include giving personal hand sanitisers to frontline staff and stepping up the cleaning of surfaces like handrails.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs)

Today, the authority also informed all bus drivers in Auckland they are no longer required to handle cash.

But First Union spokesperson Jared Abbott said drivers still feel at risk.

"Drivers at the end of their run... have to go through and clean the buses and they're picking up stuff like used tissues, which obviously adds to paranoia," he said.

"There's been a lot of requests from drivers to try and get professional cleaners in to do that stuff.

"I think it's the intentions of everyone to put as much stuff in place, but with all the panic buying, it does make it very difficult to do these things."

Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:

Abbott said some bus drivers were bringing their own hand sanitiser onboard, as the company has struggled to source large supplies. Not all buses were currently stocked with sanitiser.

Meanwhile, other transport services in the country were updating their measures to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

KiwiRail said it's closely monitoring the impact of the virus across its entire business.

Group chief operating officer Todd Moyle said the well-being of passers and staff were a top priority, and it's working with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport.

Increased hygiene measures are being applied around KiwiRail's office buildings and passenger terminals, as well as on the ferries and trains themselves, including extra deep-cleans with special attention given to high-touch areas.

Moyle said Interislander staff have also been briefed on what to do if someone has symptoms.

Wellington's public transport network Metlink has rolled out new cleaning procedures across its rail, bus and ferry services.

It is looking at the way fares are collected, and will update customers as soon as possible.

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