28 Mar 2020

New fog guns help with cleaning on Wellington train, bus service

8:58 pm on 28 March 2020

Wellington's trains and buses are being reduced to ghost services, as public transport is adjusted to cope with alert level 4. And new fog guns have been brought in to disinfect them.

train fog in wellington

Train fogging in Wellington. Photo: Supplied

Since the lockdown began on Thursday, many Metlink train and bus services have run with no passengers on board, Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Daran Ponter said.

"We are providing an essential service, there are people like nurses, doctors, medical professionals, supermarket workers, who do rely on public transport.

"Despite the high cost of providing public transport when you've only got two or three people on it, it is nevertheless an essential part of being in a level 4 environment, and making sure people can get to where they need to get to."

train in wellington

Photo: Supplied

During the lockdown the Sunday timetable is in use every day, as this was the least busy timetable that could be switched to quickly, Ponter said.

All public transport has also been made free, until at least the end of June.

"We will keep on looking at the network to ensure, as best as possible, people can connect with where they need to get to - if they are essential workers or are travelling to supermarkets and pharmacies.

"But clearly the Sunday services weren't designed to meet everyone's need, so at a time like this we need to hear from people if we need to adjust the services."

Extra early morning buses have already been added to meet demand from workers heading to Wellington Regional Hospital and Kenepuru Community Hospital in Porirua. These will begin on Monday, and will run from Island Bay, Grenada Village and Porirua Railway Station.

Fog guns spread disinfectant

And new fog guns have been bought for cleaners to use to spread disinfectant through the inside of trains and buses, to help keep passengers and staff safe.

"That's to cover the surfaces and make sure any viruses that come into contact with those surfaces are dealt with - it lands on the surfaces, and ensures any viruses can't actually settle down," Ponter said.

"It is the Ministry of Health approved, and it's been used overseas in other virus outbreaks. It lasts a reasonable time, so it is not used nightly. Our nightly cleaning regime still applies."

Metlink staff have installed markings throughout all buses and trains, to help passengers see where they can stand and sit so they can stay separated by two metres or more, to help avoid any cross-contamination.

Requests have flowed in asking Metlink for refunds for April passes bought before the lockdown and announcement of free travel.

"The answer is yes, but please bear with us while we work out the easiest way to do that while we are in lockdown," Metlink general manager Scott Gallacher said.