Can the Public Transit Sector Regain Commuter Confidence After COVID?

June 09, 2021

The COVID-19 crisis dramatically affected movement across towns and cities worldwide. With lockdown measures confining people to their homes, all segments in the transportation bucket, from public transport operators and ridesharing services to gas stations and parking facilities, felt the pinch.

Fortunately, the gloom did not last forever. Today, the recovery journey is well underway. Companies that braved the storm in 2020 are now gearing up to bounce back and hopefully return to pre-COVID success sooner rather than later.

That said, just because the pandemic is nearing its end does not mean transit customers will be quick to get out of their houses. Concerns about health and safety will still be significant long after most households have been vaccinated. Furthermore, because many people have found working at home more convenient than commuting, they may not be very willing to get back on the road. 

To drive future growth, the transport industry must realign itself to new travel patterns and develop ways of convincing customers to get back on the move. Below are four key ways that transport can restore commuter confidence to achieve growth in the post-pandemic future.

1. Making Public Transportation More Convenient

COVID-19 dealt a massive blow to public transit. Bus and subway passenger volumes dropped by as much as 90% within the first few months of the pandemic, particularly after lockdown measures were announced. Commuters reduced drastically, and the few that remained chose safer options like personal cars, walking, and cycling.

Although travel is gradually resuming worldwide, customers are still reluctant to get back on planes, trains, and buses. Thankfully, technologies and apps that make traveling more convenient can help bridge the gap. Pavemint, for example, eases the headache of finding parking spaces by enabling drivers to book their spots in advance and pay for them right from their mobile devices. That way, they do not need to drive around an airport or rail station to find parking before boarding their plane or train.

2. Tackling Traffic Congestion

Dealing with one of the biggest problems in urban mobility is a concrete strategy for transport to get back on the customer’s good side. People will be more willing to resume commuting if they do not have to suffer through traffic. 

Operators can utilize technologies like GPS, sensors, cameras, and mobile apps to make it easier for drivers to find traffic-free roads and vacant parking spaces. Data analytics can also help administrators to predict traffic patterns and deploy control measures more accurately.

3. Pushing for Contactless Payments

The Coronavirus pandemic has created an enduring culture of reduced physical contact. People have gotten used to paying for various goods and services from their smart devices rather than cash and cards. 

In the post-COVID future, transit customers will be more receptive to contactless payments, which offer more convenience and safety than traditional methods. Industry players can get ahead of the curve by developing intuitive digital payment systems across all stages of a trip. Touchpoints like purchasing tickets, fueling, and parking can benefit significantly from contactless app-powered payment solutions. 

4. Championing Sustainability

COVID-19 has made everyone realize how vulnerable they are to natural threats. Although the pandemic put many sustainability efforts on hold, they are bound to come back even stronger. Customers expect industries to make their offerings as planet-friendly as possible. 

As travel resumes, the transit sector must be keen to reduce carbon emissions. Measures that address traffic congestion, such as parking apps and contactless payments at toll roads, can help minimize air pollution by reducing the time drivers spend on the road. Additionally, cities can promote sustainable travel modes by establishing more walking and cycling lanes along main roads. 

The industry must also support electric vehicle adoption. Parking operators can invest more in electric charging stations to make owning an EV more convenient for motorists. 

As the world emerges from quarantine and lockdowns, the transit sector has quite a lot of re-strategizing on its plate. All industry segments must play their part to reassure customers that they can resume traveling without worrying about health, safety, and inconvenience. 

Innovations that make moving, parking, and paying easy can help regain customer confidence by reducing congestion, promoting health and safety, and contributing to a sustainable sector. With the right technology, transit will be well equipped to thrive after the pandemic.