COVID-19: Metlink details physical distancing and capacity for alert level 2

With alert level 2 imminent, Metlink has announced updated plans for physical distancing and the impact on capacity across the region’s network.

There will be no standing on services, physical distancing will remain at two metres for queuing and be reduced to one metre on board services, which will mean:

  • Buses will now be able to carry 40% of the usual seated load compared to 20% under alert level 3
  • Trains will be able to carry 30% of the usual load compared to 15% under alert level 3

Harbour ferries, which start service again on 18 May, will also operate with restricted capacity due to physical distancing requirements.

Buses will also see the return of front door access, a boost to people with disabilities who will now be able to make use of the accessibility features.

General Manager Scott Gallacher says Metlink, operators, and unions have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare for alert level 2 and the increased demand for public transport as more people make their way back to work.

“Throughout the response to COVID-19, the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has been at forefront of everything Metlink has done to keep public transport running as an essential service”.

“Physical distancing and no standing means our fleets will still be operating below their maximum seated load and we thank passengers for their patience and understanding if they are unable to catch their first choice bus, train or ferry.”

“We are using all available insight, including Snapper data on buses, to monitor the performance of the network and to help inform where we deploy services across the region so we can get as many passengers moving as possible,” says Scott Gallacher.

Metlink has installed signs, posters, stickers and floor decals and promoted informational videos on social media and websites to help passengers keep safe on all Metlink services. Metlink is also asking all passengers to keep a record of their travel in case of further instances of COVID-19 across the region.

Roger Blakeley, chair of Greater Wellington’s Transport committee, says while passengers have become accustomed to physical distancing and staying safe, the council and Metlink are taking every precaution to help passengers adjust to life in alert level 2.

“Council is pleased to hear that Metlink ambassadors will be at key spots around the region. They’ll have people on the ground to help with passenger queries on physical distancing and to monitor capacity and loading on the network”.

“Following the example of the Mayor of London last week, Greater Wellington is encouraging employers across the region to help stagger their return to work plans and starting and finishing times to help ease the burden on public transport at this time. Similarly, we would ask members of the public to avoid peak travel where possible to enable those that need public transport the most to get around” says Cr Blakeley.

Passengers should continue to follow personal hygiene advice from the Ministry of Health, washing hands before and after trips and avoiding travelling on public transport if sick.

Metlink advises all passengers to use its website and app to plan journeys during level 2 and thanks passengers for their ongoing kindness and patience at this time.