Cash fares will no longer be accepted on public transport as of Monday, March 23 in an effort to minimise physical contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Auckland Transport (AT) and Metlink have both announced the changes. The removal of cash fares will apply to both buses and trains in Wellington while the measure will only be implemented for buses in Auckland.
"AT and its bus operators have moved to make public transport even safer as they manage the COVID-19 issue," AT said in a statement on Thursday.
"This will minimise the physical contact between customers, AT staff and bus drivers."
AT's customer service centres will be offering a limited number of free HOP cards to passengers who planned on purchasing a paper ticket following the changes.
"The ministry says it is safe for people to continue to use buses, trains and ferries so long as they are feeling well. If you don’t feel well, stay home to help limit the spread of any virus," AT reiterated.
The removal of cash sales will endeavour to "give our passengers and staff more peace of mind", Metlink announced in a statement on Friday.
Metlink encourages Wellington's train commuters to transition to EFTPOS, offering a 50 percent discount on all monthly passes throughout April, May and June. The discounted train passes will be available from March 23.
For bus travel, Metlink asks customers to use a Snapper card, which is Wellington's HOP card equivalent.
To encourage customers transitioning from cash to card, Snapper cards preloaded with $5 will be given to new users between March 23 and March 30.
Both transport agencies have noted the importance of tag-on-tag-off cards amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Cash-handling often entails physical contact and can further the spread of bacteria.
Tips for staying safe on public transport
AT has released simple and courteous measures commuters can take to ensure everyone is safe on public transport amid the outbreak:
- use an AT or Snapper card
- avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth
- try to avoid close contact with people who are showing symptoms of illness
- carry around a hand sanitiser with more than 60 percent alcohol to use on the go
- cover the mouth and nose with tissues when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or elbow. Dispose of the tissues
- wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- wash hands after using public transport
- stay home if you're feeling unwell.