Ridango. How to prepare for the restart of public transport. Takeaways from UITP's webinar.

Without a doubt, many Public Transport Authorities and Operators have asked themselves, “How should we prepare for the restart of public transport? “.  

You’re not alone in this and that was the topic of  UITP’s last Covid-19 related webinar, called “What will be the New Normal and how do we get there? Preparing the re-start of public transport”. UITP has developed a series of webinars to assist public transport operators in tailoring business continuity plans, responding to the specific challenges of communicable diseases (namely, COVID-19 in this case). 

The following article is based on the takeaways from the webinar, but also from our own customer communication, that we believe are important for every PTA/PTO representative.  

Challenges 

The biggest challenge is, of course, on the shoulders of millions of front-line workers, who are sacrificing their time and sometimes even lives to save the world. Meanwhile, PTAs and PTOs are facing a big challenge of their own. Despite the Covid-19 crisis and its spread, millions of people are still dependent on public transport services. Therefore, managing Covid-19 & crisis, while continually providing the essential public transport service in a way that doesn’t add more casualties, is one of the biggest challenges globally.  

The biggest challenge is, of course, on the shoulders of millions of front-line workers

Therefore, there are numerous challenges that PTA/PTOs face.  

Staff protection. It’s crucial to find answers to questions like “How to deal with the increased number of infected staff and even deaths?” ; „How to meet the need and access to health & safety materials like masks or disinfectant?“. It’s essential to  continue with staff testing  to contain the spread of infection. „How to effectively reinforce social distance measures, so that both travelers and staff will follow them?“ 

Staff management.  Keeping a  fixed roster is challenging, but essential to avoid cross-infection of all teams. Keep training and recruiting activities online, if possible. Adapt recruiting procedures to new demands. Partial delays of maintenance and project work also add to the list of on-going challenges.  

Keeping a  fixed roster is challenging, but essential to avoid cross-infection of all teams.

Communication, bothinternal and external, can become a challenge.
Since office workers are mostly online, then reinforcing a communication standard is essential. Effective communication between CEO, Managers, and Staff is critical because many workers feel insecure and unprotected. Maintaining the Digital experience only adds complexity to the challenge. 

Loss of revenue.  In addition to heavily decreased ridership during the crisis, also continuing revenue loss can be expected due to the drop-in tourism, and in some cases an inability to safely collect fares. 

Change of behavior  of passengers, increased aggressiveness due to economic and psychological challenges.  

Dissatisfied passengers  due to lack of space in public transport, because of mandatory 2-meters social distancing requirements.  

Extreme working conditions  for staff (for example – using masks/face shields the whole day is very challenging).  

Framework and approach for exiting the crisis. 

First, there are some questions to be considered.  

How long will the crisis last?  The length of continuing lockdown determines the short-term emergency measures and long-term impact on business processes. Working regulations, staff availability, and motivation all add extra weight on that, together with customer relations, financial implications, and countermeasures.  

How will the restrictions be lifted?  First, innovative measures to extend capacity/demand management should be investigated. Also, permitted activities for particular user groups and the capacity impact could be considered. It’s indescribably essential to have stakeholders involved in decision-making and measures to manage the demand.  

From  remaining measures and requirements perspective, masks and social distancing should remain mandatory to prevent the further spread of the virus and possible contribution to the 2nd wave of Covid-19 once the first restrictions are lifted. Although the consumer-level masks do not provide much protection if you’re healthy, these still reduce significantly the possibility to infect the others, if you are carrying the virus unknowingly. 

Although the consumer-level masks do not provide much protection if you’re healthy, these still reduce significantly the possibility to infect the others, if you are carrying the virus unknowingly. 

Approach to be considered. 

The crisis team  should be in place and ready to deal with the current situation. 

Plan-ahead team  should be considering development & decision scenarios and response options as they mature, but also prepare step-by-step transition into the „new normal “. 

The strategy team  must prepare business recovery, be responsible for innovation and growth in a more extended context. 

Hopefully, it provides you with some insights about how we should prepare for the restart of public transport. In case you missed our earlier takeaways blog post about UITP’s previous webinar “How to manage public transport during the Covid-19 outbreak?”, then click here