As national and regional governments are contemplating to gradually re-open their respective economies, the complexity of creating social distancing policies when it comes to passenger transportation is strikingly evident. Passenger transport often translates into packing a large number of individuals into tight, closed quarters… Yet transit authorities, airlines and cruise ship operators have a few ideas to make this happen.
Covering one’s face is a well-know method used to stop the spread of viruses and contagious diseases. There are various types of face coverings such as surgical masks, N95 respirators; as well as non-medical “cloth masks” which can as simple as a scarf or bandana wrapped around a person’s nose and mouth.
Some airlines such as Air France and Air Canada are starting to require passengers to wear face coverings on all flights. In the case of Air France, this new policy coincides with recent French government guidelines.
Transit agencies such as New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) have also instituted similar initiatives. Indeed, all MTA riders have had to wear face coverings since April 17 as part of an executive order by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cruise giant Royal Caribbean is looking to trademark its own branded face mask (the “Seaface”) prior to tentatively resuming operations in June.
Various forms of clear plexiglass barriers can used to physically distance bus drivers from riders. Such have historically been used to protect them from assaults and other malicious behaviors.
Along with many transit authorities, Cincinnati Metro has setup plexiglass separators on all its buses between the operator’s area and the farebox.
Deliberately blocking rider and passengers seats is another method to enforce social distancing.
For example, Delta Air Lines will limit seats in the following manner throughout June 30:
- Limiting seating at 50% in first class.
- Limiting seating at 60% in the main cabin and Delta Comfort+ as well as Delta Premium Select sections.
- Blocking some window and aisle seats in all cabins setup with 1x2, 2x2 and 2x3 seating.
- Blocking middle seats on all flights.
The signs are being installed on buses, streetcars and subways and inform that seats are being blocked off for the safety of riders.
Of course, limiting seating often comes with decreased profitability and such measures may have to be reconsidered once COVID-19 infections are drastically reduced.
Enforcing social distancing in the passenger transportation sector will come with serious challenges; yet the adaptability and creativity of organizations and individuals will find new ways to ensure we continue to go from point A to point B.