BUSWORLD ACADEMY 3th WEBINAR: HOW TO RESTART BUS OPERATIONS AFTER A LOCKDOWN? (1)
Five executive speakers shared their experiences and insights during the third Busworld Academy webinar, and tried to answer the burning “After Covid-19” questions. The first Busworld Academy webinar the topic “How can governments contribute to the survival of bus and coach operators during and after a Covid-19 crisis?” and was the second webinar about “Generating income, reducing costs during Covid-19”. The main question is, how to maintain social distancing and keep bus capacity as high as possible? Part 1.
Demand for bus services is evolving during this Covid-19 pandemic, said Busworld Academy Director Jan Deman. This was shown in a graph from Check My Bus. “We see that if Covid-19 contaminations drop, the demand for bus and coach tickets is picking up quite fast”. It was a positive start of this third Busworld Academy webinar attend by 930 bus and coach professionals from around the world.
From China Li Feng, Deputy Director at the Jinan Public Transport Group Co., enlighted us about the situation in Jinan. His company did not face a total lock down of transport but saw the volume drop down to less then 5%. Jinan has 9 million inhabitants, the Jinan Group 13.000 employees, 5,800 buses, 346 routes. Before the Covid-19 crisis Jinan transported every day 2 million passengers. “To restart business fully the first step has to be taken by the central government”, he explains. To guarantee social distancing in the coming weeks or months they are thinking of increasing the frequency on the bus routes.
Brussels Minister of Transportation, Elke Van den Brandt, attended the webinar. “Social distancing has a huge impact. Brussels public transport company MIVB-STIB is already at the maximum of its capacity. When society re-opens that might give a problem with social distancing.” She explains MIVB-STIB find the solution in flexibility in adapting bus lines in frequency and hour-scheme. Also the authorities want to flatten peak hours by asking people to skip their 9 to 5 mentality or stay working from home. “I am always promoting public transport. Now I have a different message: “If you love our public transport, please go by bike or on foot. Leave it for those who really need it.” To support this Brussels is putting 40 kilometre of extra bike lanes in place and is expanding the pedestrian zones up to 100 kilometre of streets.
Craig Cipriano is Acting President for MTA Bus Company and Acting Senior Vice President of New York City Transit (NYCT). New York with over 8 million people, is hit hard by the corona virus with 20% of all confirmed cases of the US. The MTA bus part has 18,000 employees, over 1,000 have Covid-19. From them 32 people did not survive. Before Covid-19 MTA carried 2,2 million daily customers on 54,000 bus trips on 327 bus routes with nearly 6,000 buses. Although ridership is 80% lower, MTA still provides 70 to 75% of its services.” A reardoor entry policy has put in place to avoid contact at the fair box. MTA is accelerating the implementation of the “Tap and Go” payment system. It has not collected fairs for about six weeks so the financial situation of MTA is precarious. “Public transport is funded due to Covid-19 with 3.9 billion dollars and we have asked for another 4 billion.” Wether coaches can be of assistance to expand capacity Cipriano said it would be a major paradigm switch, as they operate in a unionised environment. Elke Brandt from Brussel sees also the unionised sector as a problem, but also she mentioned current regulations as an obstacle.