How has the COVID-19 crisis affected public and private transport?

RingGo CEO Peter O’Driscoll explains how the coronavirus lockdown has affected public and private transport and what the future holds for the mobility industry

There is a reason the word “unprecedented” is now applied to our cultural landscape. No one has seen anything like it. The parking and mobility sectors will need to be particularly dynamic as countries reopen and recover at different rates, but flexibility and change are already things these sectors were already adjusting to.

While there are many differing opinions on what exactly things will look like as cities begin to reopen, but many are aligned with the big changes underway. Large-scale travel will resume, but mobility is moving towards a shared model. Local authorities will change their deployment of parking resources, while, more importantly, many will sprint towards a contactless / cashless society to protect public health.

The crisis has shed light on a changing sector

Before COVID-19, the mobility sector had already been disrupted by advances in technology sharing and new approaches sparked by environmental concerns. Today, mobility as a whole is being reassessed. Cycling is being promoted and things that languished on the record are now brought to the fore.

In fact, local authorities try to react quickly, sometimes finding local options that are more flexible to implement and more adaptable to changing circumstances. Tony Ralph, Director of Public Domain Services in Islington, sees this not only within his borough, but through the diversity of surrounding councils. “The true magnitude of the impacts of this crisis is probably not fully understood. However, it is certain that the public and private sectors will adapt quickly to implement a wide range of security measures.

Expected sustainable impacts

That doesn’t mean mobility will go back to how it was in 2019. Companies now know they can save money by switching to virtual solutions and remote meetings. The virtual framework that they were forced to build out of necessity can be maintained to maximize physical resources and minimize space costs.

The return to normal will also bring big questions about traffic jams and public transport. A Chinese study found that congestion increased by around 20% in 17 cities after the lockdown because people did not want to be on public transport. Experts believe this could also be happening in the UK. People are likely to stay home and be wary of public transportation after the lockdown ends, but by August or September they will be back to regular transportation options, although this varies by region. A change in preferences will make cycling more popular and likely speed up the use and legislation of electric scooters.

A reader for more contactless options

There will be a profound shift towards contactless payments as governments and businesses seek all means to reduce the spread of the virus. Ralph points out “that local authorities are now considering enforcing virtual parking, without the need to put a ticket on the car”.

Some local authorities were reluctant to explore this before the crisis. Now councils across the UK are taking parking machines off the streets to reduce the likelihood of diseases being transmitted by so many hands touching machines.

Of course, the road to the contactless parking has a few bumps. Some seniors are uncomfortable with contactless payments or unable to physically handle the technology. Some boards may also need to tackle the limited distribution of smartphones or the internet itself.

The local impact of parking

Local authorities face huge holes in their budgets as they have either stopped charging for parking or seen parking demand disappear. Many offer free parking for healthcare workers, and others have waived all parking fees.

“From a parking standpoint,” Ralph remarks of Islington. “We have seen the service’s overall revenue decline due to reduced travel and the enforcement of the parking law. We took a measured approach and focused on law enforcement to support the supply chain and enable safe and reliable passage through the borough for key workers. “

It will take a lot of tools to bridge this gap, but one of them is definitely contactless payment. Residents will be much more likely to use paid parking if they can pay without having to touch a potentially infected parking lot.

Lewis Wray, UK director of WSP, suggests a creative solution to the sidelines in retail parking demand. Local authorities can make money by monetizing sidewalk space. Many places see less car travel in central areas. Deliveries, however, have yet to take place. This is partly due to the specific automobile restrictions in London, and partly due to the reduction in retail-oriented trips due to online shopping. This empty sidewalk space could not only be used for these deliveries, but it can also be monetized in a way that makes it easier for businesses by using reservations through an online platform.

Environmental concerns

This moment can prove to be a tipping point in sustainability. Wray believes that while the tension between the economy and the environment still exists, the search for a cleaner environment will continue after the crisis. Cities will still need to control car overcrowding and reduce parking congestion in urban areas. Additionally, the current environmental push could accelerate as attention shifts to digital.

Some key ways for local governments to maintain clean air include emissions-based parking, cycle highways, and variable deliveries with reservations. A major effort that councils can make to have an impact on the environment is to adopt emission-based parking (EBP) programs that encourage those who buy cars to buy electric vehicles. Since its passage in Westminster two years ago, EBP has resulted in a 38% reduction in nitrogen dioxide in the air while there has been a 16% reduction in the most polluting diesel vehicles in the world. region.

To respond to the economic impact of these solutions, municipalities must balance traffic, commerce and air quality with data, including using the millions of data points generated by parking applications.

The future of mobility

There are many solutions being discussed for the various challenges and factors in each city, but they rely on two things: data and flexibility. Businesses and governments cannot afford to stick to one way of doing things or one rigid point of view. They need to use data to know which of the many tools they need to use to respond to the situation in real time. In addition, they must act quickly.

There are no easy answers. As Wray noted, “There has never been an event that has had such an impact on people.” However, it is clear that the mobility sector has an incredible opportunity to be a force for positive change. Decisions made now can improve the health and lives of millions of people, not to mention the earthquake impact of improving the environment.

from the publisher advised Articles

Melvin Z. Madore