Just a few weeks ago, the only issue with pushing a pedestrian crossing button was social – had the other person standing there pressed it already? Now, in this strange new world, we have to think about how we might spread – or catch – coronavirus by performing this most pedestrian of actions. Jaywalking, gloves and elbow-to-button contact has abounded, but Transport for NSW has come up with a better solution: it’s automated all pedestrian crossings at traffic lights in Sydney’s CBD to help minimise unnecessary surface contact.
Many crossings were already automated between 7am and 7pm, but as of March 23 all CBD crossings are automated 24 hours a day. Pedestrians just need to wait at the traffic lights for the signal to change. (See the map of the area covered here). There’s no word yet on whether this automation will be rolled out across other Sydney council areas.
Transport for NSW has also introduced a host of other measures to keep public transport passengers safe during the pandemic. It’s increased cleaning on trains, buses, ferries, light rail and the metro, with a focus on high-contact surfaces such as Opal card readers and handrails. Bookings on long-distance trains and coaches have been designed to maximise social distancing.
The agency is also providing hand sanitiser at high-volume stations and increasing its public-health messaging at stations and offices. It says the network has already seen a dramatic reduction in passengers, as employers encourage their staff to work from home and members of the public cut back to essential travel only.