Smart Transport

Spare offers advice for public transport redesign in response to COVID-19

Spare, the mobility platform, has set out its thoughts on how public transport could be transformed with on demand services in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Kristoffer Vik Hansen, chief executive and co-founder of the Vancouver-based company, said Spare wants to help transit agencies rapidly respond to a fast-changing environment in a way that maximizes the safety of riders, drivers, and wider communities.

Hansen set out his five main ways transit can adapt:

  1. Shift away from moving lots of people to selectively moving the right people, by scaling down mass transit and scaling up microtransit;
  2. Decentralize the risk of transit and health systems collapsing due to worker absenteeism, because microtransit is more resilient to outages than fixed routes;
  3. Segment microtransit riders by their risk profile, thereby reducing the social mixing that exacerbates the spread of the virus;
  4. Use microtransit to rapidly screen and test riders, and to promote good hygiene and responsible behaviour through educational ‘nudging’;
  5. Use in-app technology to implement contact tracing, to better understand the spread of the virus and intervene appropriately when infections are detected.

Hansen said: “The COVID-19 crisis is placing huge pressure on economies and societies globally. We recognize that this extraordinary situation presents significant challenges for transit planners in particular. 

“When your day job involves running hundreds or even thousands of fixed bus routes, you face existential questions about your transit network: should you cut all services?

"Keep key routes running with reduced frequencies? Combine fixed-route with on-demand transportation? And what are the knock-on effects of your decisions on the community and local economy?”

The full blog post can be viewed on Spare's website.

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