Transport operators step up vigilance

  • Metro News
  • Thursday, 13 Feb 2020

Rapid KL checks its bus captains’ temperature before they are cleared for duty.

WITH the ongoing coronavirus epidemic (Covid-19), public transportation operators like Rapid KL and Express Rail Link (ERL) are heightening precautionary measures to protect the health of its passengers.

Front-line staff

Rapid KL, which manages over one million bus and rail passengers daily commuting on its more than 170 routes in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, makes sure that safety measures start with its staff.

This includes compulsory health checks on bus drivers before they are deployed.

Rapid bus chief executive officer (CEO) Muhammad Yazurin Sallij said only those found to be fit and healthy could proceed with their duty.

“We have made the screening of temperature and health conditions of our bus captains mandatory. The temperature check is done at all seven Rapid KL depots as well as in Rapid Penang, Rapid Kuantan, Rapid Kamunting and Rapid Manjung every morning.

“We also provide our bus captains and front-line staff with face masks to safeguard their well-being,” he added.

Similarly, ERL has also provided hand sanitisers and face masks to all its front-line staff.

The operator of KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit services said these steps were taken with the aim of instilling confidence in the public, including tourists, and to encourage them to continue using public transport.

Trains and stations

At a briefing session to present ERL’s precautionary measures to help halt the spread of Covid-19, ERL Maintenance Support Sdn Bhd CEO Thomas Baake said ERL practised a strict cleaning regimen and high observed standards of hygiene.

“During this period of heightened precautions, we are tripling the frequency of cleaning high-contact areas at stations.

“Besides that, stronger disinfectants will be used by our cleaners,” he said.

The cleaning and sanitising work at the stations and trains are carried out during the day and night respectively, where train seats are steam-cleaned.

Without needing detergent, steam cleaners pick up dirt and remove bacteria effectively from the entire breadth of the train seats.

High-contact areas on the train, including hand grips and rails, baggage racks, door push buttons and toilets, are disinfected too during the nightly deep cleaning.

In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, the train operator said it had increased cleaning frequency throughout the day at stations to sterilise countertops, ticket gates, escalator and stair handrails, lift buttons, kiosk touchscreens, public seats and toilets.

Rapid Rail CEO Abdul Hadi Amran said, “Cleanliness of trains and facilities have always been a top priority.”

He assured that trains under Rapid were cleaned nightly between 1am and 4.30am while stations and platform areas were swept and mopped multiple times between 5.30am and 6.30pm every day.

“High-contact areas such as seats, hand grips, stanchions, escalator handrails, elevator buttons and rubbish bins are cleared and cleaned properly three times a day with approved detergent while washrooms are cleaned 18 times daily,” he added.

To avoid inconveniencing passengers, he said a more thorough cleaning was done at all areas at the end of the morning peak hours and when necessary.

Hand sanitisers were also provided at staff counters for the public to use, he added.

Increasing awareness

To increase the public’s awareness on risk of exposure to the virus, Rapid Rail has taken preventive steps by airing public service announcements on Light Rail Transit, Mass Rail Transit and monorail trains about the effects and harm caused by Covid-19.

In addition, infographics with precautionary procedures that can be taken by the public are displayed on windows and walls of the trains, as well as published on official social media accounts.

As for ERL, infographic notices are screened digitally in stations and onboard the trains to inform and educate passengers.

Information from the Health Ministry about government initiatives and the virus is also posted on notice boards and the company’s social media.

Staff are briefed and encouraged to practise internal communications regarding the importance of maintaining cleanliness and hygiene, especially during this period.

Prioritising passengers

Both Rapid KL and ERL have provided hand sanitisers for their passengers at the enquiry and ticket counters.

ERL is also supplying face masks not only to their front-line staff but also to passengers showing signs of flu.

“As advised by the government, we will need to play our part in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Our precautionary measures are also guided by the Health Ministry,” said Baake.

“We are doing everything possible to assure the public that public transportation is safe.”

Saw Khwee Fong, 23, who travels to work by MRT every day, carries a surgical mask with her. However, she said that she would only wear the mask if there was a large crowd in the train.

“If the train is packed, I make sure to put on the mask. But if it is not, then I do not wear it.

“As long as we remain vigilant of our surroundings and take necessary precautions like washing our hands properly with soap and using hand sanitiser, travelling by public transport is not a problem,” said the software quality assurance engineer.

“It is inevitable to common across people coughing, sweating and sneezing. People must prioritise personal hygiene and etiquette, it would be good for them and for everyone on board the train as well,” she added.

When asked if she ever came across sanitisers at the ticketing counter, Saw shook her head.

“I did not see hand sanitisers displayed on the counters for the public. I am still comfortable using the train for my daily commute but I think it would be great if hand sanitisers were provided for the public to use when they pass the gate,” she said.

Another loyal user of the MRT, law student Harishdeep Singh, 23, has been travelling on the train from his residence in Kajang to class every day for the past two years. He said that he rarely wore a mask on the train.

“I honestly do not worry about it as much because I have read a few news reports about cases in Malaysia where the patients have made complete recovery. Therefore, I have complete faith that there is no need to be overly cautious,” he explained.

He said that the worry of contracting the disease was ever present, but that since the number of cases in Malaysia was not at an alarming level, he was not overly fearful at this point.

Harishdeep said cleanliness of MRT stations and trains on his route was at a satisfactory level.

“I have seen workers on numerous occasions cleaning not only the trains but also areas in the stations. I would say they have done an admirable job thus far.

“However, cleaning seats on trains and stations is not enough. During the current crisis, they can do much more.

“Handing out free masks to passengers will be useful as it is very hard to buy them from pharmacies nowadays because these are constantly out of stock.

“Considering the large number of public transport users, distributing free masks can help lower the risk of the spread of the disease,” he concluded.

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coronavirus , outbreak , Wuhan , pneumonia , Covid-19


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