In addition to the usual rules about not pushing and keeping order, bus passengers and drivers in Israel now need to comply with new rules aimed at preventing coronavirus infections from occurring on public transportation. On the assumption that undiagnosed people carrying the virus may be riding buses, the Transportation Ministry announced the new rules Monday.
The first row of seats behind the driver must now remain vacant, according to the new rules, in order to somewhat cordon off the driver from passengers. Standing in the aisles is now banned altogether on inter-city buses, and it is to be discouraged on in-town buses as well. On buses where passengers do stand, they must stand further from the edge of the first row. Drivers will carry disinfectant, and are windows are to remain open in order to allow for an exchange of air. Drivers who feel ill are instructed to pull over to the side of the road and get off the bus, regardless of where they are.
For now, public transportation will continue as usual, although getting on crowded buses may be more of a challenge given the new rules essentially limiting the number of passengers on a bus. But the ministry expects that more drivers will be exposed to carriers or contract the disease themselves, eventually leading to a shortage of drivers. Emergency plans have been prepared that will cut bus service by up to 25%, Yisrael Hayom reported.
“Since the beginning of the crisis we have been examining its impact on public transportation,” Minister Betzalel Smotrich said. “We will do everything possible to limit the spread of the disease. We have an important responsibility and we have been taking it very seriously. The steps that we are taking may cause some temporary inconvenience, but we have no doubt that the lifesaving steps we are taking are the right ones,” he added.