- State governments are planning for temporary bike lanes to reduce crowding in public transport.
- Managing passenger flow during peak hours remains one prominent challenge for state transit systems.
- Use of strategic solutions in association with technological assistance can help mitigate the infection risk.
Gushing adrenaline rush as we prepare to return to workplace took many of us down the memory lane of the roller coaster ride. The thrill to take up the ride clashed with fear of heights and movements that held our decisions to take the adventurous journey.
The trip to workplace following gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions also resonates similar mixed feelings of euphoria and paranoia as we struggle between the choice of freedom and infection. And, the fear here is much real, as potential danger of COVID-19 holds high chances of occurrence.
Australia realises light at the end of the tunnel as operations in the country once again pick up the steam. Meanwhile, the world is gradually gearing to restart many business and travel activities that would kickstart economic growth.
While many firms are back in the saddle, employees who fortunately still have jobs amidst the downturn are required to get back to work. But the major dilemma principally circles around following social distancing norms to ensure both personal and national safety.
How Come Commutation Amidst Work From Home Culture?
Fear of second wave is asserting the Government to bring to the table some innovation that would solve commutation issues for people resuming offices. Many suggestions that forsake the use of public travel have come across to reduce chances of infection.
The Government has been stressing on Work From Home for mitigating the risk of infection transmission. However, rebooting the economy would still require many employees going back to their offices. The spurring requirement for rejuvenating business activities demand effective commute solutions that would take into account safety, health concerns, along with time efficiency and sustainability.
With this backdrop, let us look at the need for public travel and how it might erect a significant challenge in the nation’s fight against coronavirus.
Why Public Transport?
“If the viral infection is so contagious, then why to start the crammed public transport?”- the question has often banged on our minds. The alternatives of walking, cycling, or using private vehicles are often present when evaluating against the potential infection threat. However, what remains key determinant is the feasibility and sustainability of these solutions.
Problems concerning road congestion and air population have remained key factors that have dwindled the lucrativeness of private transport. Besides, increase in adoption of private vehicles for commuting to workplaces may also create parking issues in the already congested and over-priced corporate areas. Adding to the existing problems, expensive nature of cab services might augment burden on people’s wallets that are already battering the COVID-19 downturns.
Meanwhile, the Government is promoting cycling or walking to workplaces. CBD parking and Bike Paths have remained on agenda of the NSW state government, which is urging Sydney people to avoid public transport. However, problems yet continue unresolved, especially for commuters travelling a long distance.
Amidst growing business activities and unresolved travel issues despite out-of-the box thinking, situation yet demands safe public travel. However, challenges to keep the infection at bay primarily girdles adoption of a mass transit system.
So, what is the enigma around Public Transit?
Carefree ride in public transport would not remain the same as a pre-pandemic scenario. The constant fear of infection would be evident on the faces despite being half-hid by masks. The congregation on tightly packed spaces in our journey to work might offer a high probability of infection to wreak havoc in the country.
The Government remains cautious on large gatherings, and huge crowd, especially during peak hours, would easily bypass the existing benchmarks on social distancing. Meanwhile, shoulder-touching queues at stops would likely enhance infection chances even if the Government fixes number of commuters on services.
Amidst such a scenario, Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey urged people to use rational sense when using community transit services. Meanwhile, the Queensland state government has imposed specific measures such as enhanced cleaning along with Go Cards only transactions for ensuring contactless service as far as possible.
Nevertheless, potential issue of excessive crowding yet baffles the strategy formulators. The Government, along with residents, need to circle the wagon through implementation and practice of necessary safety methods to grease the wheels of economic revival.
So, evidently which Measures could be taken?
Simultaneous efforts of the Government, as well as people, would be necessary for ensuring safe commutation that would also provide strong momentum to the economic reboot. The strategic, collaborative, and technological initiatives can together be kept in place for enhancing the safety and security of mass transit amid the crisis.
- Work together with employers for staggering work hours, so that employees travel out of peak time.
- Generate awareness among citizens that they may adhere to social distancing regulations.
- When feeling unwell, employees should avoid commuting.
- Providing work from home and minimising crowd whenever possible.
- Restricting passengers per fleet while increasing frequency of services for ensuring a safe distance.
- Contributing to infrastructure development of the transport system.
- Increase in number of transport facilities, especially during peak hours for reducing wait time.
- Travel cost reduction for non-peak hours for lowering burden during a specific time.
- Regular sanitisation and disinfection of transport services.
- Using contact tracing apps for an emergency.
- Implementing AI-based solutions for analysing changing patterns.
- Thermal imaging for identifying patients who might show infection symptoms.
- Controlling consumer flow through technological solutions that count the number of passengers.
- Applications for informative services, allowing commuters to take timely decisions.
- Development of robotic and automatic technology for avoiding contacts.
Full revival of public transport seems in tough sledding. It would not only require getting off the beaten track but also innovatively employing solutions. While the challenge to economic reboot in the form of public transport functionality lies ahead, effective solutions to the dilemma can be the key to revival.
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