What Does Public Transit Look Like Post-COVID?

By January 25, 2022

Although we currently seem to be living in a neverending cycle of variants, eventually, we will come out of this pandemic. While no one can say for sure when that will happen, we can be certain that public transit will never go back to the way that it was.

This industry is forever changed, and those transit agencies that adjust to the new normal smartly are the ones that will survive in a post-COVID world. 

But what exactly does that world look like and how do you prepare for it? Here’s a quick outlook.

Put Additional Safety Measures In Place

According to METRO, many of the major transport authorities around the world have reported up to a 95% reduction in riders. This shows the widespread uncertainty surrounding the transit industry. 

Riders must be certain they can still rely on transportation services to safely get them where they need to go, on time. In current times, there are understandably additional safety concerns due to COVID, but providing reliable, timely service must still be at the forefront with additional safety measures in place. 

While social distancing is certainly a tricky hurdle to clear and enforce, safety protocols are front of mind for your passengers. Whether it’s masking, blocking seats to ensure spacing, or using NEMT software to make the entire process completely contactless for your riders, safety measures must be in place to give your passengers peace of mind. 

Our advice here? Be proactive in your approach! Make sure masks are available onboard for passengers to use should they forget theirs. Inform them of the option to schedule rides and pay online so they don’t need to spend time touching the pay station or handling money. Have additional drivers available to handle peak busy periods. 

Putting your passengers’ safety first will give them assurance that you care about their health.

Be Patient and Be Ready to Adjust Your Schedule

Don’t expect a sudden wave of riders to return to your pre-COVID levels anytime soon. While safety issues are paramount, COVID has also changed the way we work. With many companies now giving employees the option to work remotely, many former commuters won’t be returning to the office at all. Others may but only on a part-time basis.

This means “rush hour” may never get back to the way it was as the traditional “9-5” sunsets in favor of flexible work schedules. Your transit schedule should adjust to when the new peak hours emerge. Spread your drivers throughout the day to meet demand and be flexible to your rider’s needs. Be nimble, learn when your riders need transportation, and adjust your schedule accordingly. 

Compete With Emerging Competition

Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft entered the space before COVID arrived but still exist as the primary competition to traditional ride services and transit agencies. Scooter and bicycle shares have also emerged in recent years and become attractive options for commuters who may not want to share crowded spaces with other riders.

But for many, particularly those in need of NEMT services, buses will still provide the best and most viable option. Even though you provide a niche service, you still need to reassure your riders that you have the technology they expect to provide the convenience of modern app-based competition. 

Environmentally-conscious riders will appreciate that shared public and private transit options are more environmentally friendly than single-car usage. Public transport remains the backbone of urban mobility, and your transit agency plays a vital role in the mobility of your community.
Show your riders that importance by providing reliable, safe, service, when they need it and you’ll position your transit agency to move forward in the new post-COVID world. See how NEMT transportation management software like TripMaster can be the solution your transit agency needs to move forward.