L.E.K. contributes to public transport sector’s Covid-19 response

26 March 2020 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

Australia’s association for the public transport sector has released a series of reports aimed at helping public transport authorities and operators with effectively responding to the coronavirus. The reports were drafted in collaboration with experts from L.E.K. Consulting. 

Public transport is a vital service in any society. Even in these times of low transport activity amid a lockdown, service continuity remains important not only for sustaining economic activity, but also as now ‘crucial workers’ need to reach their jobs, and passengers may have to travel to access appropriate public health care. 

However, at the same time, public transport systems such as buses and trains could be a high risk environment for Covid-19 transmission, mainly due to the large number of common surface touch points such as ticket machines, handrails and door knobs. Especially in areas with a high population density such as Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra or Perth, this risk is something to be taken very seriously by the authorities and institutions.

UITPANZ develops Covid-19 response for public transport

Response guidelines

With the objective of helping member firms and groups, UITP Australia New Zealand (UITPANZ) paper ‘Public Transport Authorities and Covid-19: Response from the Front Line’ provides an overview of response guidelines from within Australia and other parts of the world. The report outlines best practise and tips across five main areas of intervention: disinfection and Sanitisation, workforce monitoring, access control, business continuity planning, and internal and external communication.

The authors conclude that while shut-down of certain public transport services and cuts in services are logical, authorities and operators should strive to avoid a complete shutdown, as this may be counterproductive in an acute situation such as the Coronovirus outbreak. However for this response to fully achieve its purpose, “operators need to ensure that the services that are in fact operating are not overcrowded, and are disinfected/sanitised frequently during service.”

Public transport operators in Australia and New Zealand are taking measures to realise this. In Melbourne for instance, commuters aren’t able to access the front row of seats on trams and many buses, and the inquiry holes on tram drivers cabins are sealed off in an effort to provide the drivers distance from the public. 

UITPANZ’s second white paper in the series, ‘Public Transport Authorities and Covid-19: Impact and Response to a Pandemic’, provides a first analysis on the impact of the coronavirus on the public transport sector. According to the authors, early estimates suggest that the drop in transport activity has been as much as 80% to 90% in major cities in China, Iran and the US, and depending on the city/route as much as 70% for some operators in the UK. 

The papers were authored together with consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting, led by partner Mark Streeting.