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On the buses: Pensioners, students back on board but workers steer clear

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Public transport in south-east Queensland is running at about 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, but not for full-fare customers.

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An analysis of Go Card data shows that some categories of commuters are now more likely to be using trains, buses, ferries and CityCats, even though overall activity is still down.

School-aged card users are commuting at 81.3 per cent of the level recorded before the pandemic, which may reflect the lower risk of serious COVID-19 complications and the logistics of managing busy families.

Yet pensioners and seniors, despite being at greater risk of COVID-19, are still doing 74.6 per cent of the trips they did before the pandemic. For them, public transport may be a necessity, made cheaper by concession cards.

However, regular adult card holders are only doing 61.5 per cent of the trips they did pre-pandemic – below average across categories – while tertiary students are barely doing half of their normal travel (51.1 per cent).

“Tertiary student travel is impacted by return to campus requirements and also the change in the number of international students,” a TransLink spokesman said.

“Overall, public transport across south-east Queensland is currently about 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. In early March, we hit more than 500,000 trips on our SEQ public transport network in a single day for the first time since COVID-19.”

The comeback was short-lived, with a lockdown then disrupting daily life in the south-east again and masks still required in public.

TransLink has ramped up cleaning, provided hand sanitiser at all train stations and major busway stations, scheduled larger vehicles on busier routes and put on additional services to allow for social distancing.

“There remains space on most public transport services right across the SEQ network,” the spokesman said.

“We’re here for all passengers, even those who haven’t travelled for a while and are considering travelling on public transport again.”

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