Data from recent months show that the number of users of public transport is increasing in many regions of the world after the notable drop caused by lockdowns to combat COVID-19. A hopeful data that, although it grows slowly, indicates that the population is gradually regaining confidence in the safety of traveling by bus, metro, train and tram.
To guarantee the safety of the sector, the authorities and public transport operators have combined all our resources to adapt networks and services, increasing operational capacity, investing in new technologies to provide real-time information to users and manage the occupancy rate. , and meticulously enforcing security measures and protocols. And in the meantime, our sector’s revenues have been heavily affected by the dramatic drop in passenger numbers and rising costs of additional sanitation measures.
In sum, the constant messages about the low safety of traveling in public transport derived in part from some administrations, which have advised avoiding this means of transport by promoting the use of private vehicles or proposing the reduction of the occupation of this, is damaging the future of sustainable mobility and the only sector that guarantees full and universal accessibility to the population as a whole. This decline in the use of public transport also directly affects the mobility of cities as a whole, since the promotion of private transport generates a greater volume of traffic jams, which would affect the time invested and the productive hours of people, the management of public space and in the increase of air pollution levels.
In this sense, it is important to remember that the latest scientific studies carried out in different countries certify that public transport is a totally safe environment against COVID-19. Likewise, public health experts also highlight that, with the security measures imposed, such as the mandatory use of the mask by passengers, the continuous disinfection and cleaning processes of the vehicles, in addition to the ventilation systems that renew the air and prevent the transmission of the virus, the risk of infection is practically zero, especially compared to other activities.
An example of these analyzes carried out is the latest study by the European Commission on public transport, which indicates that trips by buses, subways or trams are completely safe. The study points out that, compared to family gatherings or leisure, which are in the lead with almost 40% of infections; the workplace, with 27%; or the health environment, with 12%, public transport does not appear among those places that require special attention.
Along the same lines, the report COVID-19 and urban mobility: impacts and perspectives, prepared by the European Parliament, which offers an overview of the situation and trends in urban and metropolitan transport since the beginning of the pandemic in different cities of the world, points out that epidemiological studies carried out in Austria, France and Japan, as well as The data collected in New York and Singapore suggest that, if the established preventive measures are applied, the risk of contagion in transport is minimal since these vehicles are safer than other enclosed spaces.
Our main commitment is to maintain the mobility of cities, showing that we can adapt to guarantee the safety of users and workers. We want to regain confidence in public transport and the influx that we had before the pandemic by adapting to this new normal. However, additional efforts must be made from local, regional and national institutions to energetically communicate the benefits of public transportation to society and restore the trust of citizens.