Measures to make the metro and buses safe places

Some 96% of metro passengers are now wearing face masks when they travel. Last week saw 225,000 masks handed out at metro stations and interchanges, backed up by an information drive about their obligatory use on public transport. Face masks and hand sanitiser are also available from vending machines on the network as from this week. This is one of the measures which have been applied on the metro and on buses in the city to turn them into safe spaces, the aim being to ensure maximum health guarantees for users.

11/05/2020 20:02 h

Ecologia Urbana

Barcelona City Council continues to apply measures and adapt the city as it gradually comes out of the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 health emergency.

One of the main goals, set out in the government measure “New sustainable mobility in a new public space”, is to make public transport a safe place and offer maximum health guarantees for people who use it.

In this context, the city government and TMB are applying a protocol on safety, disinfection and hygiene on the metro and bus network to guarantee passengers can use them in optimum safety conditions.

Generalised use of face masks on public transport

At present, metro and bus users are complying with the hygiene regulations in place since the initial lockdown exit stage started on Monday, which include the use of masks and distancing.

Using a sample number of metro stations, TMB found that 96% of users enter the metro premises wearing a face mask, as set out in the order by the Ministry for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda. The generalised use of face masks was also observed on buses and is one of the safety measures issued for public transport to regain its central role in metropolitan mobility.

Last week saw Barcelona City Council and the Catalan Red Cross hand out 225,000 face masks on public transport, after the central government made their use obligatory for passengers. The material, sent by the Spanish government, was distributed by volunteers from the City Council and the Red Cross at 26 metro stations and interchanges with the city’s rail network.

The distribution process was carried out with support from TMB security staff and backed up with an information campaign on safety regulations.

Ten vending machines with face masks and hand sanitiser

The supply of face masks and hand hygiene products is currently guaranteed at pharmacies, and as from this week availability of these items is guaranteed inside the metro premises too.

Ten vending machines in seven different stations on the network are offering face masks (packs of ten) and hand sanitiser at official prices. The ten machines are in the following stations: Catalunya (L1 and L3), Espanya (interchange), La Sagrera (L1, L5 and interchange), Sagrada Família (L2), Verdaguer (L5), Diagonal (L5) and Lesseps (L3).

More services to ensure safety distances

The rule for maintaining safety distances between people on the bus and metro is generally being observed. As a reference, up to half of seats may be occupied and on platforms there should be no more than two people per square metre.

Services programmed by TMB have enabled these physical distancing regulations to be maintained: 85% of trains are circulating during rush hours and 80% during all other periods, while 65% of buses are in circulation during rush hours and 57% the rest of the day.

This service level is more than sufficient for the current stage, when demand is still between 85% and 88% below normal, and will gradually be stepped up as lockdown measures are eased further.

Signs to organise the circulation of users

Among the measures to ensure distancing is observed and to prevent build-ups of people, TMB is putting up signs at metro interchanges and the busiest stations to organise the flow of passengers.

Arrows on the floor encourage users to walk on the right and to respect safety distances at all times.

Signage has already been installed at the interchanges in Diagonal, Espanya, Urquinaona, La Sagrera, Sagrada Família and Verdaguer.

Posters have also been put up indicating the need to respect distances with other passengers, while lift doors have notices reminding people that they are for priority use by people with reduced mobility.

Protective screens on 1,140 buses

Work is also under way to install protective screens for bus drivers, using transparent polycarbonate sheets to minimise the risk of infection.

The screens will be made and installed on the entire fleet from June, complementing the preventive measures adopted to date: passengers required to board buses using the rear door and maintain distances, with no ticket sales or exchanges on board.

With a view to the situation after the state of emergency, the protective screens will enable the usual system to be re-established for passengers to get on and off the bus. This solution, which minimises the possibility of infection in the long-term, will be installed on 1,140 vehicles operated by TMB. Screens will also be installed on 758 buses run by AMB and operated directly by companies.

At the same time, TMB is working to strengthen health protection measures for its workers. These include a new thermographic camera at the entrance to the metro offices in La Sagrera, which has been operative since Friday. Last week also saw TMB start voluntary rapid tests for active workers who have developed Covid-19 symptoms while at work or later on, or who may by asymptomatic but have been in close contact, without the necessary protection measures, with a colleague or customer with symptoms.

Along the same lines of protecting people’s health, this week sees the start of a specific immunoassay for all people confirmed or likely to have Covid-19 to be able to go back to work after being temporarily inactive. The goal is to know who has been in contact with the virus, and in the case of those who have, which stage of immunity they are at before they go back to work, also to prevent possible infections.

Seventeen improvements to bus lanes

Work has been under way since last Monday to improve bus lanes in the city, achieving greater frequency and commercial speed, and offering more services to users. Seventeen improvement projects are planned in total:

  • Segregation of bus lanes using physical structures to prevent encroachment by other vehicles in the busiest areas.
  • Creation of new bus lane sections.
  • Modifications to existing lanes.

Eight of the seventeen improvements planned have been completed so far.

Specifically, segregation work has been carried out in Pla de Palau with Avinguda del Marquès de l’Argentera, in Passeig de Gràcia (between Carrer del Rosselló and Avinguda Diagonal), in Via Favència (between Carrer de Carles Soldevila and Plaça de Karl Marx), in Carrer de Balmes (between Carrer de la Granada del Penedès and Avinguda Diagonal) and in Carrer de Cartagena (between Carrer de Llorens, Carrer de Barba and Carrer de Mas Casanovas).

New bus lane sections have also been created in Carrer d’Espronceda, between Passeig del Taulat and Passeig de Garcia Fària, and in Passeig Garcia Fària, between Carrer d’Espronceda and Carrer de la Jonquera. Modifications to bus lanes have been made in Via Favència (between Carrer de l’Artesania and Plaça de Karl Marx).

Promoting journeys on foot, on public transport and by bike

There has been a shift in the means of travel used by people in Barcelona during the state of emergency, with more journeys made using private vehicles than with public transport, reversing the usual trend.

In view of this, the city government is implementing immediate measures to guarantee safety for people making journeys and get back on track for the goals set out in the Urban Mobility Plan (PMU), which promote journeys on foot, on public transport and by bike.