How can mass transportation survive when it cannot carry a large number of passengers? This is the question that irritates the authorities.
Most of the time trains and buses operate at a social distance and sometimes seem to be very empty. Those who travel on them wear masks and some are still hesitant to use public transport.
It doesn’t seem to change much and that is what the authorities want to see in the short and medium term.
Messaging hasn’t changed from “avoiding public transportation unless absolutely necessary”. The language has probably softened somewhat on its own “essential” to “necessary” trips.
Car travel is already on the rise.
In the congestion charging area, the number of cars is already what it was before the blockade: 100,000 days.
The rate of the congestion charge zone has increased to try to combat it. The fear is that in London it will continue to grow and any recovery will be driven by associated pollution.
But the number of people on bicycles and on foot has also risen in the capital, bringing some advice to start low-traffic neighborhoods and school streets to further limit motor vehicles.
In Brixton, the Lambeth Council blocked traffic through areas around Railton Road, where 5,000 vehicles per day passed along a residential street. And while many local residents like the idea, there is a sizable number that are against restrictions.
What’s also interesting is that the funding for these emergency interventions is part of the bailout of the Transport for London (TfL) government.
A condition of the rescue is the money that is given to the advice through TfL, it can only be used on this type of cycling and walking scheme.
You can expect to see more of this trend. Perhaps the number of e-scooters will continue to increase.
The figures show that 50% of Londoners have used public transportation to get around before the blockade began. And the concern is that the pipes and trains that are only partially full are not sustainable.
What has changed is also social distancing and this will contribute slightly to capacity. According to the TfL models, going from 2m to 1m will increase capacity to 25%, from 15%.
While a normal subway train can normally carry 800 people (or even more), at 2m it reduces to 93, while at 1m plus a train can carry 208, the figures show.
A double-decker bus can carry 87 passengers. At 2m social distance it can carry 20, at 1m more it can carry 30. There will also be an impact on the queues, making them shorter.
But all transport unions are concerned with reducing social distances.
Railway companies welcomed the news that the social gap will be reduced by over 1 million. But they warned that the capacity will be full even at 1 m by the end of November. After that you should manage and suppress excess demand through messages or prices.
Michael Holden is a railroad expert and a veteran who once ran railway companies for the government and says the situation is unsustainable. The railways have already cost £ 3.5 billion in government money and this could rise to £ 7 billion.
He thinks that messaging around trains is intended solely for “essential travel” must change and there is a way to make public transport safer by introducing more extensive cleaning, perspex barriers and possible automatic temperature controls.
And there are many who think that public transportation should look at the aviation industry and copy the techniques they are using to make flying safer.
At London City airport, she now uses automatic temperature measurement systems to enter the terminal and the computer software highlights areas where social distance is not respected.
Could we see a part of it copied on public transport?
And the big question is funding. How long can the government finance public transport heavily? In London the £ 1.6 billion bailout will end in September.
Last week, transportation secretary Grant Shapps told the transportation committee that it was “fairly obvious if you don’t have 100% capacity, it’s very difficult to make it profitable.”
More home work is one way of alleviating the public transportation system. And there may be a push to encourage him even more. Some companies are considering closing offices and getting workforce to work from home.
But public transportation has not yet addressed how to cope with the return of large numbers or if this is even possible.