COVID Impact

Commuting when public transport isn’t built for COVID-19.

May 31st 2020 · 5 min reading


Mobility refers to the movement of people and goods. This recognizes both automobile and transit modes, but still assumes that movement is an end in itself, rather than a means to an end.

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In a world that wasn't built for social distancing, is it even possible to do something as simple as commute to work safely?

Pre-COVID, foot traffic outside Melbourne Town Hall exceeded 20,000 people per day. However, mid-March this dropped to less than 3,000 people. As restrictions have started to ease, foot traffic by the first week of May was still below pre-COVID levels, but had increased 40% from the previous week.

These trends were similar for public transport. Ridership across all modes of public transport in Queensland plunged between the 15th-29th of March - the days leading up to the announcing of tighter mobility restrictions by the Federal Government on the 24th of March. Similarly, the ACT lightrail also saw a reduction in ridership, but this has increased 40% from the previous four weeks

Addressing the public's concern

Addressing public transport ridership and balancing it with safety concerns is still a point of contention. Government's have recommended trying to more evenly spread ridership across peak times, and even extending the peak to maximise social distancing measures.

However, the question arises in the flexibility that some people have in being able to change the times they travel to and from work or education. Under current social distancing recommendations, you'd need 10 times as many buses to maintain the recommended social distancing measures during peakhour - so how do we balance demand with health and safety risks?

Watch the original video on the ABC here.

Compass IOT is an analytics-focused startup that aggregates transport data to help infrastructure planning teams form more informed decisions. Our software takes complex data operations and puts it in an easy-to-understand visual platform so that teams can better interpret the analytics and form actionable plans.