GARA - During the Covid-19 Situation

Posted on in News

Last year our members started sending us their thoughts and actions during the initial weeks of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This exercise proved insightful into how the industry was coping with issues caused by lockdowns & quarantines. Over the last few weeks, we ran another questionnaire to find out how things have changed in the last 6 months. Below are the results.

Have normal services resumed or are revised timetables still in place? How are you managing staff patterns and rosters to fit this?

All but one response claimed to be operating on a revised and reduced schedule which is allowing the ability to have staff working fewer shifts while providing the same standard which passengers come to expect. The one response that has resumed a standard timetable is doing so via a skeleton crew to reduce unnecessary contact and mitigate risks.

What channels are you using to communicate with passengers and what is your current media strategy?

All respondents are using a combination of online and offline methods of communication and marketing. Be that social media or more tradition forms of media with a goal of boosting brand awareness and staying in the minds of potential customers for when regular service restarts.

What new technology is in place to assist customers in their travel avoiding touch points at stations or on trains etc?

The use of automated ticket machines is on the rise due to COVID-19 along with pushing for cashless sales via cards and Apple/Google Pay. Replacing many button activated doors with automatic ones and increasing cleaning intervals of remaining inevitable touch points.

Are you actively running COVID-19 testing schemes to allow passengers to travel?

The majority are not running tests.

What are the plans for the future to avoid crowded trains and stations going forward?

All responses to this question essentially fall into two categories, reducing passenger numbers or increasing service capacity. The first group will achieve this by holding a percentage of tickets back as a buffer and blocking off seats to provide adequate distancing between passengers. Whilst others will combat overcrowding by resorting back to a normal schedule and increasing frequency when necessary.

How are the revised cleaning protocols working, is this giving customers more confidence in travelling?

Whilst all cleaning protocols are working well and used in conjunction with frequent announcements about cleanliness are driving customer confidence up, many feel that the government calls against public travel are counteracting this confidence.

Do you still have supply chain issues and what is the plan to overcome these?

The majority are not having supply chain issues, those that are have no plans to overcome.

What are the main reasons and considerations in deciding to stop services completely?

N/A to any recipients.

What happens to the staff during this temporary suspension of service?

N/A for the majority. A combination of furlough and compulsory salary reductions for higher earners.

How long do you estimate it will take to recover to previous levels of ridership? What happens to the rolling stock during this period?

This is possibly the most diverse set of answers we have ever had signalling how difficult and unpredictable to current situation is. With estimates ranging from 1 month to 3+ years to return to 2019 levels of ridership it is safe to say that even with vaccines rolling out around the world; we are in this for the long haul.