Public transport disruptions can significantly impact passengers and cities. Roadworks, road closures and accidents are just some of the reasons for delays and interruptions to public transport.
More recently, the COVID-19 crisis had a huge impact on transport, leading to changes in travel behaviors. Work-from-home practices and public’s fear of not being able to keep social distance led to less people using public transport.
Most passengers can manage short-term public transport disruptions: They just change their travel behavior. When infrastructure or services return to normalcy, users tend to revert to their original movement patterns.
But if disruptions are too frequent and not adequately managed by operators, trust in public transport can permanently decrease. Therefore, it is necessary to offer a flexible public transport service that can easily adapt to changes.
A survey in Italy by consultancy PwC found that over 70% of passengers consider public transport less safe, compared to pre-covid times. Not surprisingly, Italian public transport operators report a 50% decrease in the number of passengers they carry.
The concern of many cities is that this will result in a shift to other forms of mobility, namely private cars. After a period of lockdowns, that saw emissions significantly decrease, this could lead to worsening traffic and pollution.
Facing this challenge, the Italian city of Modena launched a public transport reorganization project. In particular, the city’s public transport agency, aMo, wanted to be well-prepared to the reopening of schools in September 2020.
Therefore, the agency chose to rely on PTV Visum software for traffic planning. The project involved assessing the workload of each public transport line, and then comparing it with the reduction in capacity. This way, aMo was able to accordingly adapt its service, making it efficient but respectful of social distancing regulations.
“Knowing that the current demand is not enough, and scenarios change often, it’s essential to plan services efficiently and be able to estimate expected demand”, says Francesco Oliviero, a marketing and sales manager at PTV who supported the project, “For this you need simulation tools that allow you to know the evolution of demand”.
Restoring trust in public transport
To deal with public transport disruptions of all kinds, cities need a careful and flexible planning process. In addition, more sustainable modes of transportation are becoming increasingly popular: Micro-mobility, sharing schemes, and on-demand services.
This means that these solutions will have to be coordinated alongside traditional modes of public transport. Cities will have to use tools that take into account multimodality.
Simulation and modeling tools, like those offered by PTV Group, can help cities efficiently plan public transport services based on passengers’ needs. That will restore and maintain users’ trust in public transport.