Scenario 2: COVID-19 Fades, but Many People Remain Wary of Transit
How should the customer experience change?
Shifting consumers to other modes, such as microtransit and TNCs to augment and/or replace paratransit
Use digital kiosks as an alternative to smartphone requirements
Use cell phone/SMS as an alternative to smartphone access
Leverage robotics and AI to provide ADA assistance (particularly in automated transit scenarios)
Develop “”Welcome back”” messaging to riders
Messaging to show that riders “”want”” to return to transit, emphasizing health, safety, amenities, and other quality of rider factors
Instead of one-size fits all messaging, use targeted/personalized messaging campaigns for different rider types such as ate-shift workers, periodic commuters, etc.
Anticipate rider expectations. Riders expect transit agencies to know their preferences and travel behavior and are more likely to be repeat riders if an operator provides targeted, personalized information
Develop strategies for winning back choice riders and rebuilding route networks to expand beyond the safety-net
Reassure riders of plans to address similar situations in the future
Demonstrating service adjustments through visualations and other tools such as AC Transit’s SAVE
Promote visible signs of change, such as touchless payment systems
Convey to customers via marketing and operational visibility how public transit is being kept clean with greater visibility of janitorial/sanitizing staff, etc
Ask customers for feedback on experience and how to enhance safety and cleanliness
Develop a healthy rider campaign
Implement a mask, hand hygiene, and cough/sneeze etiquette campaign
Provide customers with real time vehicle capacity and crowding information
Adapt to new customer preferences such as new services, pricing, marketing, travel demand, etc.
Work with federal regulators to address regulations that may inhibit desired processes and partnerships such as drug and alcohol testing regulatory impacts on TNC partnerships
What are the most immediate health priorities for transit agencies?
(See safety section)
(See safety section)
Implement operational changes and capital investments to support rider, front-end labor, and back-end labor health and safety: HVAC/air ventilation improvements, touch services, changing to contactless and virtual system where feasible
Employ hand sanitizing stations in strategic locations throughout transit facilities and rolling stock
Use a broad spectrum of EPA/CDC approved disinfectants
Ensure biohazard kit availability to transit employees
Implement hands free equipment in all bathroom facilities
Evaluate facilities and rolling stock to ensure high occupant density areas meet sufficient ventilation requirements
Evaluate facilities and rolling stock to ensure HVAC equipment is properly installed and maintained
Develop standardized cleaning and disinfecting practices for all facilities and rolling stock
Implement cleaning audits to validate cleaning and disinfection protocols
Analyze rider data to identify potential high-risk locations and times
Develop a health labor campaign (e.g., PPE, social distancing, restroom locator, etc.)
Continue to require PPE while riding transit
Implement contactless payment
Employ advanced data analytics so transit agencies can know what riders want without asking and launch personalized marketing campaigns
Employ data analytics to monitor COVID cases in order to pivot if cases surge
Monitor COVID-19 cases and epidemeological adaptations that could require service and/or cleaning changes
Require masks and social distancing
Develop processes and procedures for contact tracing including data management and security practices
Maintain transparency to instill public confidence and organizational accountability
What are the most important operational adjustments transit agencies should consider?
Maintain pandemic and disaster preparedness to ensure mobility and accessibility for disadvantaged communities during pandemics and disasters
Plans for returning transit service in an equitable way such as ensuring that service either returns to pre-pandemic levels or enhances equity. Ex. Improve service coverage and/or frequency in low-income and minority neighborhoods as transit service comes back online
Mitigate the impact of COVID-19 service changes on vulnerable populations. Ex: ensure adequate low-density, late-night, ADA, and other services are both available and provide equal or better than pre-pandeic service such as coverage, frequency, etc.
Post-pandemic service planning to ensure services meet community needs, serve vulnerable populations, and reflect changes in travel behavior. Ex: a bus line with 10-minute headways may no longer be needed to serve an employer that telecommutes indefinitely
Monitor data and trends such as travel behavior, economic, employment, etc. to ensure services are agile and responsive to a changing environment
Evaluate whether the existing routes meet the new “”normal”” ridership, as the number of riders may have stayed the same but their trip patterns may have changed
Temporarily reschedule routes and adjust capacity to respond to demand and potential virus outreaks/re-emerging waves
Incorporate new standards of cleaning via surface and aerosole before a fleet is deployed, while deployed, and after returning for maintenance; also incorporate new cleaning standards in all front-office and back-office operations
Implement additonal HEPA filtration, air circulation, and air diffusers, as appropriate
Review passenger flow, boarding, and other procedures to encourage social distancing
Maintain hazard mitigation and continuty of operations planning for future pandemics and disasters
Make flexible service adjustments to reflect changing demand and community needs
Focus on customer satisfaction and performance metrics to measure satisfaction and other KPIs
Make temporary bus lanes permanent
What are the most important partnerships for transit agencies to establish?
Develop partnerships with mobility service providers to augment and/or replace ADA paratransit to provide customers with a superior service such as on-demand instead of advance booking and to reduce costs and future fiscal challenges with rising costs and an increasing number of users
Develop partnerships with app, fare payment, and concierge services to increase the number of planning, booking, and payment options for a diverse set of riders with special needs such as the unbanked, people with disabilities, digitally impoverished, etc.
Develop partnerships with mobility service providers to enhance/augment off-peak and low-density service
Leverage vendor and partner relationships to enhance equity while mitigating agency fiscal impacts
Tap local real estate interests to make sure relocation decisions are not made irrationally
Use position in the community to become the mobility manager and bring together other modes, micromobility to assist community members with mobility needs
Partner with other agencies and the private sector to develop/enhance integrated apps, platforms and mobility service offerings. Note, this role could vary considerably for the agency related to providing services, offering funding, acting as a facilitator, partnering with the private sector, etc.
Support local workforce agencies
Develop partnerships with cleaning and edpidemeology SMEs. Ex: United Airlines has partned with Clorox for cleaning and the Cleveland Clinic to advise on new technologies, training development and quality assurance programming
Establish and maintain relationships with the CDC and departments of health
Create an inter- and intra-agency committee on infectious disease
Message and build rider trust through traditional and social media
Address modal resiliency through life-cycle investment planning, data management solutions, integration, partnerships and engagement with public safety, public health, and emergency management organizations such as transit-first policies, complete streets, BRT/PRT, integrated corridor management, FMLM connections, flexible fleet/right-sizing, curbspace management, MaaS/integrated payment, open/shared data, AV/AI/cybersecurity, etc.
Partner with city DOTs to ensure that streets, sidewalks and curbs support transit usage
Promote transit as a steward and supportive of economic growth via workforce development
Promote the essential role played by transit agencies is fully supported by city partners, funding and planning agencies such as MPO’s, NAACTO, Transit Center, etc and modal agency partners
Promote transit agencies providing opportunities for skilled employment. Economic recovery includes the agencies themselves
Transit facilitates affordable housing connectivity and contributes to the reduction of the homeless population by providing access to jobs and social services.
Transit connects the returning workforce to business hubs such as offices, storefronts, etc and reduces access hurdles. It’s a value proposition to move people to/from jobs – essential to restart local economies.
Transit provides connections and may seek trips paid for by healthcare / medical industry partnerships.
Transit brings people to food and food to people in need.
Transit offers free Wi-Fi for disadvantaged communities to enable distance learning and telework
What are the biggest financial concerns?
Address the rising costs associated with ADA paratransit with both a systemic and a growing and aging population
Provide access and mobility for vulnerable populations as prior service cuts are restored
Prioritize services, subsidies, fare discounts, and other programs for vulnerable populations
Increase fare revenue
Address choice riders that shift to SOVs due to safety concerns and induced demand created by reduced congestion with telework
Consider capital and operational costs of enhanced cleaning protocols
Consider cost of providing masks and other PPE
Manage debts such as operations and unforeseen costs that are incurred during the pandemic
Commence fare collection after any free fare period has ended
Budget for similar situations with larger reserve funds
Allow contract flexibility to furlough staff, delay capital projects, and defer maintenance, as appropriate
Consider cost of new procedures, equipment, training, insurance, and risk management associated with infectious disease
Enforce PPE usage and social distancing
Competing budget pressures and priorities
Managing debts incurred during the pandemic
Not having enough federal grants/subsidies to make up revenue loss/increased costs and/or having to scale back operations to meet a new funding reality
Consider new metrics for measuring transit’s value