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The state government may be forced to open up more city parking and build temporary bike lanes as commuters avoid public transport when offices in the heart of Sydney start to reopen.
Transport experts predict the easing of pandemic restrictions will cause a surge in traffic in the coming weeks as people avoid trains, buses and ferries. The pressure on Sydney's roads will also be hit by tough social distancing rules imposed at train stations and on buses for those who do choose to take public transport.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge with little traffic as seen from the Shangri-La Hotel during peak hour last month.CREDIT:NICK MOIR
Premier Gladys Berejiklian met with ministers and senior bureaucrats this week to formulate how the city’s transport network will cope when coronavirus restrictions are lifted. A plan is expected to be rolled out in coming days.
Two sources with knowledge of the discussions say proposals under consideration include a cap on the number of people allowed on a train station at one time. Bus capacity could also be cut and new bike lanes built to encourage people to cycle into the CBD.
Opening up more parking in the city was also floated as an option to encourage people to drive instead of catching public transport.
While Sydney’s roads were largely deserted during the lockdown, transport expert Geoffrey Clifton said Transport for NSW would have to balance the needs of getting people to work with health measures aimed at preventing another outbreak.
"The roads is where we will see the first surge in demand," said Dr Clifton, a senior lecturer in transport and logistics at the University of Sydney.
The NSW government hopes better cleaning of buses will convince the public they are safe to use.CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY
While busy or mismanaged roads will result in more traffic, Dr Clifton said trains or buses could pose a public health risk. He said the government must now "flatten the curve" when it came to peak hour commuting, and encourage businesses to allow people to work outside conventional times. Extending peak hour services is another way the government could address crowding on public transport.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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