Public transport is the backbone of our cities and the ongoing pandemic has wreaked massive and lasting damage to the public transportation system. Public transit provides a crucial daily service to millions of people across the world. As we all have undertaken “a stay at home” approach, the first casualty was the public transport sector. We primarily rely on public transportation immensely on a daily basis; the majority of the population depends on it for travelling and also for the daily movement of essential services.
The pandemic has generated new challenges and we will have to devise long-term solutions in order to keep the cities moving and also to ensure the financial survival of the transport industry. Practicing appropriate safety and hygiene standards when traveling is particularly important for passengers. Passengers unknowingly come in contact with and are exposed to various germs and infections while they are traveling. Travel service providers can contribute to the prevention of the spread of infection by taking necessary precautions. It is, hence, important for service providers to completely accept and establish this social responsibility in prioritizing their passengers’ health and well-being.
Enhancing the safety of the public and staff is the most pressing issue. Organizations with mobility systems will need to develop strategies to help shape the future of transportation, provide options and solutions to respond to different outcomes in case of any unforeseen mishap. Across the world, authorities have started developing protocols and procuring PPE to maintain higher hygiene standards to protect staff and passengers.
As and when the world will emerge from the lockdown and return to work, the need to provide safe and sustainable public transport is crucial. With the virus still prevalent and circulating, passengers are wary of using public transport. People now will count more on driving themselves as an alternative, but a mass shift to private transit will make our cities more congested and polluted. The only remedy to this is to redesign public transport in a way to make people safe. Not just redesigning, but people will also want to see some kind of authentication or demonstration that confirms public transportation is safe for commuting.
Visible safety and hygiene measures such as mask-wearing, maintaining physical distance, disinfection of vehicles, and others can help reassure passengers. The public transportation model must have a plan for a long haul, even after the pandemic subsides. Operators must have a plan of action to design smarter, more flexible schedules and routes. Maybe some mass transit operators can work and coordinate with employers to plan the capacity issues with the commuters’ schedule. Dramatic and dynamic changes are the need of the hour to keep cities moving. We will have to explore, utilize, and leverage digital platforms more to communicate the transport schedule. To maintain physical distancing staggered working hours should be planned to minimize peak demand.
‘Safe Way to Travel’ is an initiative started by Equinox Labs to ensure safe and secure commutes for the passengers. ‘Safe Way to Travel’ is a definitive recognition to identify and acknowledge the efforts of the travel service providers in keeping their passengers safe. This certification program leverages the best auditing parameters curated by the industry experts to quantify the current safety and hygiene standards of your service. Their services are audited based on the level of compliance and then are accordingly awarded with a ‘Safe Way to Travel’ certificate, which is recognized nationwide.
It may take a while for us to develop a vaccine or get our life back on track if not to normal, but in the meantime, we will have to find low-risk ways to travel. Mass transportation is an essential part of our daily routine and right now we are facing several challenges, however, meeting those challenges by working together as a community will help us in collectively building a safer transportation model. Safe Way to Travel is a great start to ensure operators that they are providing safe and hygienic transit to commuters and it also helps in building passenger confidence.