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Illawarra and South Coast commuters to prepare for major changes as the State Government introduces COVID-safe transport restrictions — despite already being "one of the most overcrowded lines on the network".
Wollongong MP, Paul Scully, said 20,000 commuters utilised the rail network to travel to Sydney each day, and a cap on bus and passenger numbers would cause problems.
"It is one of the most overcrowded lines on the network," he said.
"We can't ride our bikes from Wollongong to Sydney.
"You can't reasonably ask people to drive from the Illawarra to a pop-up car park at Moore Park and get trapped in 'carmegeddon' and then bus into city.
"With restrictions on the number of people allowed in [train] carriages, it's the journey home that is going to cause the most concerns."
Mr Scully is calling on the Premier to urgently approve regional satellite offices for public servants.
"In the short and longer term we need to think about the future of work," he said.
Anxiety about the return journey
There is often standing room only as South Coast commuters must cram onto trains to reach Sydney.(Supplied: Illawarra Rail Fail)Bronwyn Batten, from the Illawarra Rail Fail community action group, said the Government had not provided any guidance for intercity commuters about returning to work.
"It's very stressful. There is so much to weigh up when you consider the health concerns," she said.
"People will be forced to make decisions every day, like, do I get home two hours later and miss time with my family, so I am not on a packed train?"
Ms Batten said employers needed to continue to allow workers to stay at home.
"It will be interesting to see how this pans out for the Illawarra, Blue Mountains and Central Coast, because it is a different ball game," she said.
Pandemic a chance to push pedal futureOnly 2 per cent of the community in Wollongong used bicycles to travel to work, and Greens Councillor, Mithra Cox, of the Wollongong City Council, said pressure was mounting on public transport and it was time for a rethink.
"This is the moment for Wollongong," she said.
Want more local news? Subscribe to the Illawarra Weekly email newsletter"A lot of us live on the coastal plain, so it is pretty flat.
"A lot of us live in that 10-kilometre zone from the CBD, which makes it a pretty fast ride."
She said she was disappointed the recent council budget only provided money for five cycleways and was urging the Council to create more pop-up cycleways during the crisis.
From Bordeaux to Wollongong: a European experienceEline Schotsmans moved to Wollongong a year ago from Europe.
She grew up in Belgium and most recently spent five years enjoying a "cycle-friendly life" working in Bordeaux in France.
New Wollongong resident, Eline Schotsmans, says Australians have discovered the freedom cycling can bring.(Supplied: Eline Schotsmans)"My husband and I are real Flandriens," Ms Schotsmans said.
"We both have three bicycles each, just like all our Belgian friends; a city bike, a road bike and a mountain bike."
Ms Schotsman said she was disappointed to find the car was king of the road in Australia, and often felt unsafe commuting to work on her bike.
But she said since the COVID-19 crisis she had witnessed a change in how Australians viewed cycling.
"The Aussies have discovered the bike and the freedom that comes with it," Ms Schotmans said.
"No need to wait for public transport and is good for body and mind — we just need the infrastructure."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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