Managing public transport during the Covid-19 outbreak

Because safety is the top priority for every public transportation authority/operator, the UITP will be organizing a series of informational webinars regarding the issue, covering the sector’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The aim is to assist public transport operators in tailoring their business continuity plans and responding to the specific challenges caused by infectious diseases.  

The first webinar took place last Thursday, but there will be more to follow. The next upcoming webinars will be held in Turkish and French on 24th and 27th of March, find out more from here. The webinar is free to join and only available to UITP members.  

Ridango participated in last weeks UITP webinar, and here are our key takeaways… 

Since public transportation is an essential service it must be maintained for as long as possible, therefore as PTOs have responsibilities as an operator, employer, and service provider to the society, then there are necessary measures to be considered. 

Since public transportation is an essential service it must be maintained for as long as possible, therefore as PTOs have responsibilities as an operator, employer, and service provider to the society, then there are necessary measures to be considered. 

Personal protection and cleaning.  It’s vital that PTA/PTOs supply staff facilities with  hand sanitizers  and  paper tissues.  It’s also essential to pay attention to  personal protective equipment, such as  disposable gloves  and  respiratory masks  for staff with special exposure, such as cleaners. Regarding  cleaning routines, it’s crucial to focus on the disinfection of common surfaces. It’s also important to review the hand-over routines for drivers, making waste removal and surface disinfection part of the  individual responsibility.  

It’s vital that PTA/PTOs supply staff facilities with hand sanitizers and paper tissues

It’s strongly recommended to  reduce contact amongcustomer-facing and  back-office staff. For customer-facing staff, it’s vital to  replace cash handling with electronic payment only. Passengers should board the transportation  through rear-door, and drivers without a dedicated driver cabin should be  separated from the passengers. Ticket inspection  should be suspended at this time. It’s also essential to limit service staff to positions with sufficient distance and protection from the public. For  back-office staff, there should be an option for all available positions to  work remotely  to reduce employee density.  Conference calls  have to replace  physical gatherings. Personnel serving cafeterias should be closed and provide  takeaway service. If needed, then opening times might be extended to spread a stream of customers.  

It’s strongly recommended to reduce contact amongcustomer-facing and back-office staff. For customer-facing staff, it’s vital to replace cash handling with electronic payment only.

Service level adaption. Service level adaption needs to be considered if there is  reduced staff availability, reduced travel demand due to social distancing and reduced public activities, or travel restrictions imposed by authorities. In the case of  reduced travel demand, the service could follow  the weekend or school holiday timetable, which reflects a regular business procedure. It’s also okay to keep operational staff, temporarily not needed, at home as a back-up, when needed due to increased illness rate. If there’s a need to reduce service due to staff shortage, then  non-critical business processes  may be postponed or suspended to ensure staff availability for  mission-critical  activies as long as possible.  

In the case of reduced travel demand, the service could follow the weekend or school holiday timetable, which reflects a regular business procedure.

It’s crucial to ensure smooth communication, both  internally and externally.  

Internally,  it’s crucial to share facts about the pandemic situation in general and in the region. Also, PTA/PTOs have to share an explanation of measures that are taken by the organization. It’s essential to raise awareness about Covid-19 virus symptoms and what to do in case you’re infected, but also to reinforce the personal hygienic rules as a preventive measure.  Externally,  reliable information concerning available service and any adaption is imperative, in addition to a reminder of individual hygienic practices as preventive measures.  

Coordination and liaison. Internally  it’s crucial to put together crisis management team, identify business-critical positions and processes, review of stock and supply of hygienic and personal protection means, but also supply chains of operational materials.  Externally stay in touch with responsible authorities to be informed about relevant alert levels and recommended measures. Also, keep in touch with neighboring PT operators to align plans and exchange experiences.  

Externally stay in touch with responsible authorities to be informed about relevant alert levels and recommended measures. Also, keep in touch with neighboring PT operators to align plans and exchange experiences.

Preparedness.  It’s fundamental to review the crisis management organization and confirm the working routine and decision-making competences. Identify business-critical positions and staff members, set rules to ensure their availability. Also, review stock and supply chains for personal protection equipment.  

Response.  During the developing pandemic situation, it’s vital to make decisions that are in line with the situational development. All decisions need to be communicated to avoid confusion and unrest. It’s also important to coordinate all decision-making with relevant authorities and stakeholders.  

Since this pandemic is new to us, it makes it difficult to indicate when it’s safe to resume back to normal. In the meantime, it’s essential to follow information from relevant authorities concerning situational evaluation.  

Big thank you to UITP  for organizing such an important webinar during a crucial time like this. It’s our combined duty to make sure that the spread of coronavirus is contained, and ensure the continuity of public transport services. 

Stay healthy and remember to wash your hands often.