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Almost 700 seats will be removed from Adelaide trains as a social distancing measure after passengers recently raised concerns about the potential coronavirus risk on packed trains.
A total of 670 seats will be stripped out of 70 diesel-powered trains servicing Adelaide routes.
It is among a raft of initiatives announced by the SA Government on Friday as part of a plan to have more people return to public transport safely as the economy reopens, including changed timetables and a continuing ban on cash payments.
Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said allowing more space in aisles would help improve social distancing as more commuters return to using public transport and the economy slowly reopens.
"Our analysis shows that those seats don't get used in the proper fashion now in terms of the number of people that sit together," Mr Knoll said.
Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said the changes were intended to limit the risk.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)He said the Government had planned to make the change over 12 months, but would instead do it over the next month.
Last month, commuters expressed dismay on social media when services were cut, saying they were at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 on packed public trains.
Also on Friday, the SA Government said there would not be a cap on commuter numbers, and wearing masks would be optional.
The Government hopes the measures will enable a safe return for thousands of passengers when the next stage of reduced restrictions is rolled out on Monday.
The rollout of perspex screens will be accelerated to protect bus drivers and prevent people using cash to purchase tickets, while floor markings would be put down on trains, trams and buses to limit congestion.
"What we want to provide is a flow of traffic where people get on [through] one door and get out [through] another," Mr Knoll said.
"Our public transport usage is well down on what it used to be ... at the moment we're sitting at just over 40 per cent of normal patronage levels.
"As our economy opens up, we will see more people catching public transport."
Coronavirus update: Follow all the latest news in our daily wrap.Mr Knoll said the Government would also accelerate the development of a series of public transport mobile apps to give users better real-time information.
Premier Steven Marshall said passengers had the option to use face masks, but that such a step was not compulsory and that they would not be provided by Adelaide Metro.
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He also acknowledged that removing the option of using cash to pay for tickets on public transport — meaning people will have to use a plastic MetroCard at all times — would inconvenience some.
"It is an inconvenience, but there are a lot of inconveniences at this time," he said
Mr Knoll added that the Government and the Adelaide City Council would establish a "taskforce" in an effort to "stagger people's public transport habits in and out of the city".
He said the taskforce would also look at how it could improve various transport options, including walking, cycling, and potentially e-scooters through Adelaide's CBD.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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