“Take a moment to hold on” is what the pre-recorded announcement on trams says, over and over, ad nauseam. But what if you’d rather not hold on or you’re worried about getting sick on public transport? As of now, you should only be leaving the house for five reasons: to get essential food and supplies, to get care or give care, to exercise, to work if it can't be done at home, and to get vaccinated. But to do those things, many Melburnians have to take public transport.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re next riding a Melbourne tram, train or bus.
Stay at home if you’re sick
It’s an obvious one but it bears repeating – do not travel when you are feeling ill. Even if it’s just a scratchy throat, go and get tested. There are numerous places around Melbourne where you can get a test – here are just some.
Everything is cashless now
To keep everyone safe, Myki machines or PTV help desks will no longer be receiving cash. Instead, you will need to top up your Myki or pay for regional train and coach tickets with your credit or debit card or by topping up online.
PTV has increased cleaning
Staff have increased cleaning on all PTV services and they’re paying particular attention to “the places passengers spend the most time”. So high-touch surfaces like stop buttons, door handles, Myki machines, handrails and grab straps are now receiving regular deep cleaning every night.
Check-in using QR codes at stations and stops
Checking in is now mandatory at all businesses and workplaces across Victoria, and QR check-in codes have also been rolled out at key locations across the public transport network. If you see a code, check-in, regardless of how far you're travelling. Obviously if you're running for your train, no one is going to tell you off for not checking in...which leads us to the next point.
Register your Myki
Registering your Myki card helps contact tracers in the event that your service becomes an exposure site. Registering also protects your Myki balance if you lose your card – head to the website to register your card.
Where is safest to touch?
If those high-touch services are only cleaned at night, it’s best to avoid touching them at all. But, as many Melburnians know, trams stop suddenly, buses take tight corners fast and it’s hard to steady yourself without needing to hold on to something. Unless you have an iron core, you’re going to need to hold on. The main thing here isn’t where to touch, but what you do once you’ve touched. You can hold on (you really should hold on, to avoid falling over) but you should not use the same hand to touch your face. Bringing germs closer to your face increases the risk of you getting sick.
Wear your mask
You have to. Wearing a mask on all public transport has been mandatory since Victoria's second wave.
Consider standing next to a door or a window
Choose a spot to stand or sit that offers good airflow, like near a door or an open window. That way there’s a more regular exchange of air and you’re not breathing in stale air. But please remember the cardinal rule of public transport travel – don’t clog the doorway when others need to get off. Be kind and be smart here people.
Stagger your travel if you can
If you work in an industry where you need to commute for (permitted) work, try to adjust your working hours to less busy times if you can. Consider doing a few hours of work at home then coming in to work later in the day, or even working a few days at home and some in the office. Obviously this can’t work for many people and many industries. Another option is to try to allow extra time in your commute in case you need to wait for a less crowded train, tram or bus.
Keep in mind that Melbourne's all-night services that run Fridays and Saturdays are cancelled during curfew periods.
Clean your hands A LOT
Surfaces are now your worst enemy so as soon as you’re off public transport, whip out your hand sanitiser or wash your hands with soap for twenty seconds. Avoid touching your face or mask.
Practise your vampire sneeze
If you do need to cough or sneeze in public do it into the crook of your elbow – yes, even while wearing a mask. People will no doubt give you evil eyes for even opening your mouth (remember: not everyone who sneezes has a virus, some people are just allergic to dust!) but if you reduce the amount of spit that projects outwards into the general public, you’ve earned brownie points from us. Here’s info on why it’s better to sneeze into your elbow rather than your hand.