COVID-19 and the Impact on Public Transport

The Coronavirus, COVID-19, is increasingly having an impact on the way people conduct their daily lives. Public transport is just one of the areas that is being severely impacted through travel bans, the avoidance of public gatherings and self isolation measures. 

In most regions the use of public transport is not prohibited so the best action to be taken is by all individuals working in the sector and individuals using public transport is protection and prevention. 

Specific measures have been outlined by the American Public Transport Association (APTA), that are applicable to all countries still operating public transport systems, to combat the spread of the virus. The key measures include:

  1. A coordinated response
  2. Protection of staff and infrastructure 
  3. Protection of passengers

A coordinated response needs to be implemented to ensure all preventative measures are systematically enforced by authorities in the best interest of the public and those working in public transport. 

Staff working on buses, trains and paratransit vehicles must be well informed on the risks of infection and be given measures to minimise that risk. The more informed they are the better they will be able to react to passenger’s concerns and encourage preventative measures among passengers. 

International transport organisations including the Transport Research Board (TRB) and International Organisation for Public Transport Authorities and Operators (UITP) have put together guideline sheets to help employers and employees of public transport services become informed and able to easily enforce preventative measures to reduce contamination on public transport. 

You can download the UITP’s Management of COVID-19 Guidelines for Public Transport Operators here. 

APTA have also developed a list of preventative measures that can be taken by those working in the public transport sector to try and curb the spread of the virus. These include:

  • Engineering controls – separating people from the contamination through physical barriers such as plexiglass between the drivers and passengers.
  • Administrative controls – training, plans, policies and procedures that enforce means to reduce infection.
  • Personal hygiene equipment – gloves and respiratory protection to reduce contamination.
  • Hand hygiene – hand-washing and the use of waterless hand sanitiser.
  • Environmental hygiene – cleaning of stations, vehicles and workplaces to minimise contamination of surfaces.
  • Social distancing – maintaining a space of 1 meter between people to minimise contamination from droplets transferred through sneezing or coughing.
  • Ventilation – control ventilation, heating and air conditioning to reduce the spread of contamination.

If you would like more information on how COVID-19 is affecting public transport systems in cities across the world, or if you are looking for further preventative measures that can be taken, the below websites offer useful information. 

This article references various official sources. For more information from these sources see the links below.



COVID-19 Corona Virus Notice:

On 31 December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, China. ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2’ (SARS-CoV-2) was confirmed as the causative agent of what we now know as ‘Coronavirus Disease 2019’ (COVID-19). Since then, the virus has spread to more than 100 countries, including South Africa. Emergency Hotline: 0800 029 999 WhatsApp Support Line: 0600-123456