The novel coronavirus has showcased its potential by compelling the world to pull its shutter down and lock itself up. The virus showed its face through the silent streets, terror in people’s minds, unbearable sufferings, numerous deaths, and contemplation about the consequences of stepping out.
Since the Coronavirus kicked in 90% of the 5.5 million weekly riders cut their ties from using subways as obedient followers of the restrictions laid. The city took 5 months to bring the pandemic situation under control, even after that the ridership remain to 20% when compared to the pre-lockdown level. It does not end here, it has been several cities across the globe that traveling in trains and busses may not as risky as it was earlier presumed. Many regions across the globe who have managed to fight well again the deadly COVID-19, the ridership have hopped back to its initial ground of pre-pandemic level in those regions.
New York~ The New York Times conducted a survey of transport agencies and found out public transit doesn’t show the traits of being a significant source of spreading the life-threatening infection if people follow the measures of basic prevention and wear masks, are crowds are passing through the transit hubs which are kept small. This analysis done by the New York Times also states that no notable superspreader events have been found that are linked to public transport.
Paris~ Between the months of May and July, the city witnessed 386 infection clusters none of them were linked to public transportation.
Austria~ In the month of April and May, a study of clusters was done here and the conclusions were the same as Tokyo’s.
The percentage of Subway/ busses/ metro ridership compared to the pre-pandemic level
|New York City||20%|
India~ The cities here have still not given up on local owned transmit but they have yet not stepped into the open mass transit systems like metro rails and local trains. The long distant or interstate traveling trains were earlier suspended but due to the worsening situation for the people who have been stuck away from their homes jobless, the services did resume partially in the month of May under the plan named Shramik Special Trains (these trains were mainly targeted to aid migrant workers so that they can return home). The national capital runs on the wheels of Delhi Metro, and it is planning to resume its services and preparing themselves for offering distancing and sanitization for safe travel.
What all is needed to be done for the reopening of the public transit??
- Several governments are ensuring the availability of masks on buses and trains. In India, the government acknowledged, Arogya Setu app is being used on a high scale to determine the risk of infection before the commuters are granted an allowance for their entrance in a transit hub.
- Disinfection of vehicles is being done several times all across the day.
- As an aid of social distancing, restricted seating arrangements are to be followed.
- The level of exposure somehow determines the height of risk. When compared to others, this risk lies relatively low in trains and buses
- The subway of New York has been reopened but with necessary precautions. The concerned authorities are handing out free masks and the citizens have also proved to obedient. 90% of the riders are following the preventive measures and wearing masks according to the survey conducted lately. The strong ventilation system in the subway allows the circulation of fresh air 18 times each and every hour.
- When compared, it is much higher than the requirement in restaurants (8 – 12 times) and offices (6 – 8 times) every hour.
- But sadly, the Tokyo Metro is functioning without preventive restrictions like limited passengers, strictly following social distancing. But Carriage windows of the metro are kept open and the ticket machines are being disinfected.
Time & Distance are the crucial factors for ensuring safe travels…
- A study was done which was based on high-speed train travel in China between the period of last year’s December month to this year’s March. The study showed that attention to masks, distancing, and hygiene has proved its essentiality while traveling.
- When specific journeys were analyzed, it was found that 0 – 10 out of every hundred people who sat within five columns and three rows of an infected person got caught by the infection. People who sat near the infected person, 3.5% of those got infected and became the highest transmission group. People who were sitting in the same row but not adjacent to the infected person were also infected, But at a rate of 1.5%.
- It is simple to understand that the more the distance the safer it is to travel, hence the people who were seated at a distance of 2 to 3 rows were safer than those who were seated near the infected person.
- Out of 72,093 passengers, The study identified that 2,334 out of them were infected passengers and 234 of them were sitting next to or within the adjacent 3 rows of the infected passengers and they were recognized as subsequently confirmed as secondary COVID -19 cases.
- Time is directly and distance is inversely proportional when in terms with the proximity of the infected person while traveling. From this, we can understand the passenger who is traveling adjacent to the infected person and for a prolonged period of time possess the highest risk factor to get infected.
- With every increased hour of traveling, the risk increases by 1.3% for those who are seated adjacently.
- With an increase in the distance from the infected person, the risk factor decreases.
The use of personal hygiene protection, masks, and necessary elements of safe public travel along with increased ventilation, filtration, and circulation of air can make the travel safer.