The coronavirus stopped the daily hustle and bustle of the world, forcing everyone to remain confined to the safety of our homes. However, after a year of fighting the coronavirus with the joint efforts of healthcare workers and the public, the virus seems to have finally disappeared. It is time to go back to work for countless young people from all over the world. It feels surreal to get into public transportation, such as public transportation or the bus, after such a long period.
Ironically, all modes of public transportation have seen a rapid decline in public use in the post-pandemic era. People are still skeptical about the safety measures inside a bus or transit, compared to the higher level of safety they feel in their own personal automobiles.
Despite the fact that most governments around the world finance to revive public transport, people will still prefer to endure longer travel times in their Toyota venza Hybrid or any other car instead of getting on buses or bicycles. So is public transportation really affected in the future scope of things?
Your daily commute will never be the same
Some interviews with transportation and public health experts revealed that the period of the pandemic offered a glorious opportunity to reshape and rethink public transportation systems. Public transport systems have been in crisis due to strict blockades. Today’s public transportation also faces the challenge of protecting itself from the coronavirus and keeping all its travelers safe and sound.
To that end, various public transportation systems around the world have initiated new measures to keep COVID-19 at bay. For example, cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou in China have enabled pre-reservation of seats on buses and urban trains. Pre-booking on smartphones or online portals helps customers avoid touching a dirty kiosk to swipe their tickets.
Many cities can use existing technologies, such as automatic vehicle location and passenger flow monitors, to divert their bus routes on demand. Cities in the UK and Australia already reveal the capacity of their trains and buses using automated passenger counters and weight sensors, so passengers can make an informed decision when choosing the least crowded train or bus.
Last year, Google began providing traffic information to passengers in 200 cities around the world. This information predicted the level of capacity on buses or trains so that passengers can avoid boarding crowded trains or buses.
However, the biggest challenge for these systems remains the compromise between security and privacy. Monitoring apps already exist in several countries that reveal whether you have previously traveled with a COVID-19 positive person. Apple and Google have already developed applications with this contact tracing capability in China, Singapore, and other countries.
Face sensors have already been implemented in China’s public transport. These sensors measure your body temperature and deny entry to public transport if you have contracted a fever. You must present an immunity card with accurate antibody tests the next time you want to enter a bus or metro station.
In South Korea, the government tracks infected people by their credit card history and cell phone location data. For the land of the free like America, we believe that the people will not be willing to accept any contact tracing measures. Cultural differences play a huge role in willingness to give away personal data, as most people in the US and Europe will end up avoiding public transportation if such measures are put in place.
Why do people keep choosing cars and congestion over public transportation?
The whole reason for public transportation is to connect a lot of people with the various bustling neighborhoods and squares located within the city. However, public transport carries a higher risk of spreading infectious diseases at a high rate. In a study conducted during the 2008-09 flu season in the UK, researchers found that those who traveled by bus or transit were more than 6 times more likely to contract infectious diseases than those who traveled by car or bicycle.
The obvious solution for people is to travel in their personal car. But, the problem here is that those people are more prone to chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease. Both are health vulnerabilities that increase the risk of COVID-19 infection. The research also revealed that urban neighborhoods close to shopping and access to public transportation had lower rates of chronic disease.
Despite the fact that cars contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions and health hazards, people would still prefer the comfort of their car over the social pressure associated with a public transportation mode. After all, a society most vulnerable to COVID-19 is one that relies solely on cars and leads a sedentary lifestyle in the process.
What’s in the future?
The biggest challenge for the city administration is persuading people to return to public transport. Most people feel that it is still faster to travel to city centers by car despite increasing traffic congestion.
Furthermore, most municipal administrations have not provided means of investment for sustainable modes of transport. Additionally, the lack of commitment to establishing bus or bike lanes within cities has led people to stick to their cars as their daily routine.
Public transportation is a way of bringing people of different races and income levels together, and is a true indicator of the city’s vibrant lifestyle. It will take a while for things to get back to normal once again, however we encourage people to opt for public transportation again once the proper safety measures have been put in place.