How Public Transit Agencies are Responding to COVID-19 & Official Recommendations

By Sam Lewis, Staff Writer, Swiftly

Sam Lewis is a staff writer at Swiftly.

May 1, 2020 | Mobility, Society | 0 comments


Who will you meet?

Cities are innovating, companies are pivoting, and start-ups are growing. Like you, every urban practitioner has a remarkable story of insight and challenge from the past year.

Meet these peers and discuss the future of cities in the new Meeting of the Minds Executive Cohort Program. Replace boring virtual summits with facilitated, online, small-group discussions where you can make real connections with extraordinary, like-minded people.


 

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), and the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) have all released recommendations to help agencies during the COVID-19 outbreak. Agencies have had to act fast to protect riders and staff, and make difficult decisions to adapt to evolving conditions.

So what do these recommendations call for, and how are agencies using them? Much of the advice is centered around keeping staff and riders distanced from each other and protected from contact with the virus. Here, we present APTACUTA, and UITP’s recommendations and a window into what they look like in practice, by looking at survey results from Transit, which received information from more than 60 transit agencies on what policies they are putting in place to safely ride out the pandemic.

Got questions about how transit agencies are responding to COVID-19? Register for our interactive webinar discussion happening on April 8.

Communication

One of the most important actions agencies can take to protect their riders and their employees is to communicate their plans and keep everyone informed. It’s why APTA, CUTA, and UITP issued multiple recommendations around communication:

Official recommendations (and who recommends them):

What agencies are doing:

Every transit agency surveyed had extended at least one communication regarding the pandemic, and many had implemented service alerts and updated their GTFS information.

Employee Procedures

Transit professionals working on the front lines are getting daily exposure to COVID-19, and agencies need to do everything they can to protect them. Transit agencies might institute protocols for those essential employees, and limit exposure for the rest of their staff.

Official recommendations (and who recommends them):

What agencies are doing:

Of 82 transit agencies surveyed, 52% had created an interaction plan, 19% had made no modifications to their interaction plans, and 29% weren’t sure.

On-board Changes

There are a lot of practical recommendations for agencies on how to enhance cleaning and enact social distancing measures to maintain safety and keep transmission low. This is where agencies can get into the nuts and bolts of what to do on board vehicles.

Official recommendations (and who recommends them):

What agencies are doing:

Public transit agencies had almost universally increased vehicle cleaning, and many had modified paratransit and on-demand services.

Service Changes

Official guidelines state across the board that service should be modified. Staff is reduced and people are using transit less often due to the closing of schools, offices, and non-essential businesses. Many public transit agencies have found success by offering a weekend/holiday schedule and adjusting service for their area’s needs.

Official recommendations (and who recommends them):

What agencies are doing:

Most agencies had reduced service as part of their COVID-19 response.

Fare Policy

Eliminating or reducing fare collection and enforcement achieves several important goals at once: It eliminates the need for interactions between the bus driver and passengers and it prevents people from clustering around ticket-taking stations. It also eliminates any risks from collecting currency itself, as the virus has been shown to live on paper and metal.

Official recommendations (and who recommends them):

Roughly half of transit agencies had modified their fare policy in the face of COVID-19.

High-level Action

Public transit needs legislative support now more than ever. Public transit is an essential service and the lifeblood of our cities. With ridership taking a nosedive, transit agencies aren’t getting the funds that are critical to maintaining operations. And transit workers are interacting with the public more than most, making them one of our more vulnerable populations. Public transit needs protective legislation and critical funding.

Official recommendations (and who recommends them):

Ask other transit professionals to learn more

Want to learn more about how transit agencies are responding to COVID-19? Join other transit professionals in our “ask me anything” webinar, you can use our interactive format to pose questions, start discussions, and share best practices on the important topics for you and your agency. Please note: this is a purely a community-building webinar to share best practices. There will NOT be any commercial or product references in the webinar.

Register today for Public Transit in the Time of COVID-19, presented by Swiftly and Transit. Wednesday April 8 at 10am PT / 1pm ET. Can’t make the live session? All registrants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch at their leisure, so RSVP today.

Discussion

Leave your comment below, or reply to others.

Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org

Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology

Taking a Look into Our Adaptation Blind Spots

Taking a Look into Our Adaptation Blind Spots

In my business, we’d rather not be right. What gets a climate change expert out of bed in the morning is the desire to provide decision-makers with the best available science, and at the end of the day we go to bed hoping things won’t actually get as bad as our science tells us. That’s true whether you’re a physical or a social scientist.

Well, I’m one of the latter and Meeting of the Minds thought it would be valuable to republish an article I penned in January 2020. In that ancient past, only the most studious of news observers had heard of a virus in Wuhan, China, that was causing a lethal disease. Two months later we were in lockdown, all over the world, and while things have improved a lot in the US since November 2020, in many cities and nations around the world this is not the case. India is living through a COVID nightmare of untold proportions as we speak, and many nations have gone through wave after wave of this pandemic. The end is not in sight. It is not over. Not by a longshot.

And while the pandemic is raging, sea level continues to rise, heatwaves are killing people in one hemisphere or the other, droughts have devastated farmers, floods sent people fleeing to disaster shelters that are not the save havens we once thought them to be, wildfires consumed forests and all too many homes, and emissions dipped temporarily only to shoot up again as we try to go “back to normal.”

So, I’ll say another one of those things I wish I’ll be wrong about, but probably won’t: there is no “back to normal.” Not with climate change in an interdependent world.

Bleutech Park: Vegas’ New Eco Entertainment Park

Bleutech Park: Vegas’ New Eco Entertainment Park

I caught up with Steph Stoppenhagen from Black & Veatch the other day about their work on critical infrastructure in Las Vegas. In particular, we talked about the new Bleutech Park project which touts itself as an eco-entertainment park. They are deploying new technologies and materials to integrate water, energy, mobility, housing, and climate-smart solutions as they anticipate full-time residents and park visitors. Hear more from Steph about this new $7.5B high-tech biome in the desert.

Urban Simulation Tech Models Effects of Shared Mobility in Reducing Congestion

Urban Simulation Tech Models Effects of Shared Mobility in Reducing Congestion

Planning for new, shared modes of transit that will rival private vehicles in access and convenience requires a paradigm shift in the planning process. Rather than using traditional methods, we need to capture individual behavior while interacting with the systems in questions. An increasing number of studies show that combining agent-based simulation with activity-based travel demand modeling is a good approach. This approach creates a digital twin of the population of the city, with similar characteristics as their real-world counterparts. These synthetic individuals have activities to perform through the course of the day, and need to make mobility decisions to travel between activity locations. The entire transportation infrastructure of the city is replicated on a virtual platform that simulates real life scenarios. If individual behavior and the governing laws of the digital reality are accurately reproduced, large-scale mobility demand emerges from the bottom-up, reflecting the real-world incidences.

The Future of Cities

Mayors, planners, futurists, technologists, executives and advocates — hundreds of urban thought leaders publish on Meeting of the Minds. Sign up below to follow the future of cities.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Wait! Before You Leave —

Wait! Before You Leave —

Subscribe to receive updates on the Executive Cohort Program!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This