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Regional Victoria remains largely untouched by coronavirus and locals want to keep it that way, but fear crowded coaches could spread COVID-19 beyond Melbourne.
Regional Victoria is currently largely free of the virus but one north-east resident said not enough was being done to monitor public transport
Iain Atkins from Violet Town said he was recently crammed onto a V-Line bus with more than 50 other passengers.
"This is exactly the way a spread into regional Victoria could occur," Mr Atkins said.
"You only need one person on that bus to spread it to ten others who then get out into their rural communities."
Coach replacement service crowdedOn Tuesday, just hours before NSW closed its borders to Victoria, Mr Atkins was caught a coach bound for Albury.
V-Line has replaced all Albury line train services with coaches for all or part of the journey due to the border restrictions, but Mr Akins said this had resulted in passengers normally spread across four carriages filling one coach.
Country Victorians are worried public transport could bring coronavirus to the regions.(Wikipedia: Hoys)Mr Atkins, who has multiple myeloma and a compromised immune system, regularly travels to Melbourne by train for medical appointments.
He said it seemed transport staff didn't realise they were in the middle of a pandemic.
"There was no hand sanitiser at the door of the coach, no wiping down of surfaces, no masks or temperature checks or any warnings," he said.
"People were squashed onto one coach and almost every seat was taken."
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The coach stopped at the hotspot suburb of Broadmeadows and around 15 more passengers boarded at stops on the way to Mr Atkins' destination, almost filling the bus.
He said he was concerned passengers could not physically distance on a coach.
"The issue is that people don't know if they have this thing, and anyone on this bus could potentially be spreading it up all the way along the north-east," he said.
"I think it would make people feel safer if they policed public transport a bit better and had more checks in place."
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In a statement a V-Line spokesperson said the service had increased cleaning across train carriages, buses, stations and stops, in addition to nightly sanitation.
The spokesperson said there were occasions when physical distancing on public transport "wasn't possible".
"The safety of our staff and passengers is our number one priority and we are delivering unprecedented cleaning and keeping services running to a full timetable in Victoria to ensure those who need to travel for one of the permitted reasons can do so safely," they said.
"If you are sick, please get tested and stay home — do not go to school or work, or travel on public transport."
Police will conduct checks on train and bus passengers after a higher than usual number of tickets were purchased for regional trains in the lead-up to the Melbourne lockdown taking effect.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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