Yesterday I had a wonderful conversation with Rachel Zack of Remix about what Covid-19 means for transit. Like all crises it’s an opportunity, and I hope you enjoy this exploration of all we can learn from it.
The conversation goes from 2:57 to 51:50. Q&A starts at 32:07, but the questions were all excellent, so stay with it to the end. You can treat this as a podcast, since almost all of it works as pure audio.
One big exception to the “cut peak service and mostly leave the off-peak alone”: Rochester, MN. They actually beefed up Park & Ride service to run middays and early evenings, while cutting “regular” service to weekend levels 7 day a week,
Why? Because the Mayo Clinic is the dominant “9 to 5” industry that Park & Ride service is geared towards. They are working a lot of overtime and odd shifts to cope with the virus. Off-peak service is geared mostly to non-workers to go shopping, etc. People with “low-end” service jobs don’t depend on transit much because the historical span of service didn’t support it.
Context is everything.
One of the ironies is that as agencies reduce trips, in order to reduce rides to essential trips and address staffing reductions, we are concentrating passengers onto fewer buses, therefore working against social (actually physical) distancing. Many agencies are restricting the number of passengers allowed on each bus, in addition to using rear doors only, turning of wifi, taping off restricted seating, etc. Never in my lifetime did I think we would be be in the business of trying to discourage people from riding the bus!
It’s interesting to note that over here in London in the U.K. the bus services are running a Saturday service which is little different from the normal weekday service. The night bus services are running to their normal timetables. I have ready access to seven bus services most of which are running at 10 minute intervals. The buses are nearly empty of course so social distancing is not a problem. Outside London where the services are fully deregulated and run in a commercial basis the government has found money to kept the companies solvent and maintain existing bus services. Nevertheless as before over half the passenger journeys are conveyed by buses under contract to Transport for London (TfL)
Even over here TfL will need government support to cover the drop in revenues but it does already have over £2 billion in its contingency fund.