The talk on the bus is over. “Avoid talking” is Barcelona’s urban transport campaign. The Spanish city was a pioneer in introducing “silent transport.” Now the region of La Rioja and the Balearic Islands have also adopted this measure Urging customers to remain silent throughout the public transport network to prevent the spread of COVID-19, following the recommendations of health experts.
María Cruz Minguillón, a researcher at the Higher Council for Scientific Research, explained to the local media that “people who shout or talk on the phone can emit up to fifty times more particles.”
Transport is not a source of contagion
European scientific studies show that public transport is not a source of contagion, however we believe that this measure can improve health conditions in this environment, explains Isidre Gavin i Valls, Secretary of Infrastructure and Mobility of the Generalitat de Catalunya to Euronews.
“Many people were afraid to use public transport because it is difficult to maintain a safe distance, with this measure we minimize the risks.” But this is only a recommendation and non-compliance will not lead to any sanctions, remember.
In the video of the player you can see how the silent initiative has been launched in Barcelona and the atmosphere that is breathed in transport when users do not speak.
In Barcelona, users accept the measure quite well, as long as it is not sanctioned.
Banning may be going too far
“Recommending can be good, prohibiting is going too far”, says Xavier Sendra in Barcelona.
On the Catalan Railroad, the green signs inside and outside the train cars remind the customer of the message: “Silence” or “Trains of Silence”. This new initiative adds to the previous prohibitions such as eating or drinking while traveling.
Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), the company in charge of the Barcelona metro and buses, has created the “Avoid talking” campaign. In a surveillance environment, they remind customers to be silent via public address systems in the subway and messages on bus screens, as well as posters.
What to do with crowded transport at peak times
In some transports it is impossible to maintain social distance. For some users, this highlights the need to increase the frequency between trains, especially at peak times.
“Wouldn’t it be more effective to have more frequency on the trains than to ask us for silence?” Asks Rubén, who works in a nursing home and is well aware of the ravages of the pandemic. “There is no public money for that, so we have to take responsibility.”
For some, the ‘Tren del Silendio’ initiative may have advantages, such as enjoying a quieter journey without distractions or noise. Some look at their cell phones, others read or study. Those who support talking do so by whispering. Others look disapprovingly at those who speak too loudly or on the phone.
Without sanctions, the users themselves censor those who do not comply
Ferrocarriles Catalanes also appealed to citizens and citizen cooperation to detect inappropriate behavior.
“This is a stupid initiative. Nobody really follows this recommendation. I really believe that we are on the wrong path in terms of freedom and rights of the people ”, says Javier García.
“Why do we want to talk? Either way, we can’t hear each other when we wear these masks and train noises. Emotionally this and all the other restrictions are affecting us ”, says Pilar Thico when traveling with her 2 children.
Good acceptance among travelers
Isidre Gavin tells Euronews that users in general have accepted the recommendation for silence quite well. “People try to protect themselves, they have accepted it as a natural form of prevention.”
Most people are scared and think that transport is a great source of contagion, so they prefer to follow any measure seeking to minimize risks.
Julia Gómez, 80, feels more protected with this “measure of silence”: “Anything that helps us prevent this virus is good”. She wouldn’t ride the subway if she didn’t feel safe.
Robert, 64, sees it as a “very reasonable measure.” Also Leticia, 30 years old. “Especially since many people remove their masks to talk on the phone or with each other. It really bothers me a lot when people do that. “
Authorities admit that there is still no data to show the real impact of this silent measure.