- In the wake of COVID-19, public transport operators can enable social distancing by spreading out commutes and putting on extra buses.
- Artificial intelligence can crunch huge amounts of data and quickly design alternative routes and schedules as passengers’ needs change.
- Mapping routes onto demographic data, such as income levels for different areas, ensures public transport serves those who need it most.
As cities around the world are emerging from lockdowns to stop the spread of COVID-19, public transport companies are also facing new challenges. They will have to avoid overcrowding buses and trains to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, while ensuring that overall passenger numbers are high enough to sustain the system. Meanwhile, commuters are always tentatively returning to public transport, but will only embrace it widely if they see it as a safe, fast and convenient way of reaching their destinations.
Here are the ways cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence can help us all travel at ease, by crunching huge amounts of data, devising optimal schedules and journeys and adapting them to the rapidly evolving situation:
The end of rush hour?
Overcrowding is known to pose a major transmission risk for COVID-19 and other diseases. If countries want to avoid a second wave of infections, one approach is to flatten the typical morning and afternoon peaks in passenger numbers. At least in the medium term, rush hour is likely to be replaced by an even spread of passengers over the course of the day.
Countries around the world are already implementing or preparing for staggered work shifts and school schedules. This helps prevent overcrowding in offices and classrooms, and also spreads out commutes. For public transport companies, this can mean putting on relatively frequent trains and buses all day long, rather than running back-to-back transport during rush hour and more infrequent service during quieter times.
Smart contingency planning
Artificial intelligence (AI) can help us solve seemingly intractable transport problems. Take this example from our own business, which provides advanced technology to public transportation agencies and operators in various countries.
One of our customers wanted to add 5% more trips to their schedule in order to spread passenger numbers over more journeys, and reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission. Monitor the impact of altered service
Transport providers have to ensure that all those living along certain routes can still get to their destinations even if schedules are changed at short notice.
With data-driven planning systems, transport officials can enter demographic data from public sources, such as income levels in specific areas. They can then look at a map that overlays the suggested routes with this data. This allows officials to quickly see the potential impact of any changes for residents, including those who may not have the means to use private forms of transport. Such mapping is a fast and simple way of making public transit as inclusive as possible.
All told, there are many different ways social distancing may affect public transit as we encounter the changes that accompany a gradual exit from lockdown. Alta Futuris can help you by giving the Artificial intelligence (AI) services.