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About 85 per cent of public transport users will have to switch to cycling, walking, or keep working from home to avoid major traffic jams and ensure safe distancing on public transport as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
New research by the Institute of Sensible Transport has found that if most of Melbourne's workers were to switch from public transport to their cars amid the coronavirus pandemic, the parking space needed to accommodate the extra vehicles would be more than double the size of the CBD.
Melbourne's peak-hour public transport would need to shed seven out of every eight passengers to ensure social distancing.CREDIT:AAP
"Never before in Australia's history has there been a requirement for peak hour public transport to shed seven out of every eight passengers," said Dr Elliot Fishman, the director of the Institute of Sensible Transport.
Dr Fishman warned it was "difficult to overstate the scale of the challenge" to achieve safe public transport. "Freeing up public transport for those that must use it, makes it safer for front-line health workers and others without an alternative option," he said.
Before the pandemic, under 400,000 people used public transport during peak hour on a typical weekday, which is about eight times the density of four square metres per person now recommended by the Chief Medical Officer.
The modelling, commissioned by cycling advocacy group We Ride, shows that only 14 per cent, or around 52,000 commuters, can be accommodated on public transport while maintaining safe distancing rules.
The analysis, drawn from a range of Census and transport data, estimates that nearly 140,000 people would need to work from home and an additional 139,000 would have to avoid taking public transport during peak hours to adhere to social distancing rules. About 55,000 would need to cycle to work to maintain safe distance.
The institute's senior transport analyst, Liam Davies, said the city's roads would be overwhelmed with traffic if half of the 320,000 commuters required to leave public transport to avoid dangerous overcrowding were to drive instead.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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