With the UK government set to put in place a roadmap to ease restrictions and lift some travel bans, operators concerns will be in respect of the safety of their staff, with considerable challenges around PPE and vehicle sanitisation.
However, as passenger numbers do increase, managing social distancing on board vehicles will also present a significant challenge.
The social distancing challenge
For bus operators there is no reservation system to book online (this may be the solution for train) and as such it is not possible to manage demand in advance. Deploying inspectors to vehicles to monitor passenger numbers is unlikely to be a viable solution, due to the cost and staffing levels required.
There will also be an impact on customer service, as some passengers may have to be refused travel, due to safe capacity limits.
Utilising data available in DPS
The wealth of data in DPS can be used by operators to help meet this challenge, which could exist for a number of months.
On the day
Users of the Bus Incident Reporting Screen (BIRS) can record driver communications where their vehicle is at capacity using a ‘bus at capacity’ incident code and reacting to demand where possible. BIRS incidents can also provide visibility of capacity issues on the network for customer services to notify passengers, for example via operator app’s or social media.
The data recorded in BIRS then allows for a retrospective review to enable operators to gauge capacity requirements. This data can be utilised alongside ticketing data, to review passengers carried on a journey referenced to the vehicles safe seating capacity. Similarly, where operators have configured a specific button push for the driver to register a ‘bus at capacity’ this data can be analysed.
Monitoring customer complaints for ‘full bus’/‘refused access’ customer feedback categories will also provide more valuable insight.
Reviewing these different datasets together will provide operators with a range of information to assist with operational planning, in what are extremely challenging times. EPM can work with operators to tailor automated daily reporting to streamline this analysis. The EPM support desk continues to operate on a business as usual basis, to provide operators with support and assistance and can be contacted via email@example.com or on 01527 556 940.