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Through long form commentaries, WRI India researchers offer analysis, insights and views on the latest developments in the intersections of environment, development and well-being.
Public transport and public spaces serve as lifelines for cities. With the occurrence of COVID 19 pandemic, public transport systems, streets, and public spaces were shut as they are highly prone to the spread of infection, thus putting cities to a grinding halt. Now, the cities are preparing to slowly exit from this ‘lockdown’ phase and embrace the ‘new normal’. This gradual exit requires a meticulous plan with short-term, mid-term, and long-term strategies especially for providing public transport services and opening public spaces.
While the situation in Kochi (which is one of the key anchor cities of Kerala) has been brought under control with immediate measures, there is a very critical need to develop resilient sustainable solutions for a long-term adoption to create safety in public transport modes and city public spaces.
This document is expected to guide the city authorities and agencies to develop a phased approach for public transport and public spaces in Kochi, to tackle the present and future pandemics. It provides action steps specific to the city, to plan, implement, and regulate safe public transport and public spaces, which in turn help to scale this up to other parts of the state and country.
Buses are one of the most commonly used and popular modes of transport in India, with over 46% of urban passenger trips being serviced by public buses. However, they are also confined spaces with a lack of adequate ventilation, which makes them high-risk environments for the spread of diseases such as COVID-19.
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, public transportation across the country stopped to prevent the spread of diseases between the millions of passengers bus systems handle on a daily basis, as well as transit staff. In order for bus services to resume operations effectively and safely, comprehensive measures will need to be implemented across the board.
This document has been created to help prepare bus operations, following the emergency response phase of the pandemic and includes guidelines catered to Indian contexts, based on the best practices adopted by cities around the world.
India’s metro system carries more than 8 million people across cities every day, forming an integral part of the country’s urban transport system. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown, public transportation came to a halt to avoid spreading disease further.
Metro systems have the potential to be high-risk environments for spreading disease—with a large number of common surfaces and its reliance on air conditioning and closed ventilation. Stations, too, pose a risk. Metros carry a large number of passengers, and ensuring their safety and the safety of metro staff will require careful planning.
To resume metro services safely, operators will need to implement a comprehensive post-lockdown operations plan, to prepare for various scenarios and improve ridership over the long term. This document contains pragmatic suggestions on how to adopt health and safety measures as set out by health agencies and how to communicate these to the public effectively.