Smart Transport

Advance booking to lure passengers back onto buses

Bus driver wearing PPE

An innovative transport firm is using advance booking technology to provide safe, socially distanced bus services to protect passengers – and it may also help with contact tracing.

Zeelo says passengers will only return to public transport if there is greater confidence in the offering and has introduced a range of measures to increase passenger confidence, including:

·       A cap on the number of people on vehicles so that every member of staff has two metres spacing around them to maintain social distancing

·       Drivers wearing PPE to reduce the risk of infection spreading

·       A no-contact policy onboard – drivers check travel passes without contact

·       Hand sanitiser available on all services for riders

Zeelo, which provides smart bus services for commuters at companies such as Amazon, Argos, Ocado and Investec, currently drives more than 5,000 people to work each day across the UK, with key hubs in the Midlands, South West, North West and Home Counties.

Co-founder and Zeelo CEO Sam Ryan said the new software would provide real-time updates on passenger numbers for each route, allowing users to book ahead, safe in the knowledge that they will be two metres apart from the next passenger.

The technology could also enable contact tracing, so if a passenger informs the company they are showing symptoms of the virus, fellow passengers who may have been in contact with them in the past can be alerted.

Zeelo chairman Michael Liebreich, a former Transport for London board member, is urging companies, schools and local authorities to think differently about mass transit during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Transport agencies must act decisively to rebuild trust in mass transit, so that people feel safe using it even before the virus has completely disappeared,” said Liebreich.

“They must promote active travel and micro-mobility – not as a nice-to-have, for sustainability or health reasons – but as a public priority in order to keep cities moving and to enable robust economic activity.

“And they need to find creative ways to increase capacity – especially during rush hours, by creatively integrating private sector and smart mobility transport providers, many of whom will be sitting on idle capacity.”

John Johnson, director of Johnsons Coaches and Chairman of CPT's Coach Commission, said: “Coach operators are facing a real struggle if something isn’t done to arrest the drop in passenger confidence.

“Companies and schools need to seize the opportunity to provide safe transportation with an existing fleet which already serves the UK well.” 

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