Microtransit Against Covid and Challenges in 2021

A mantra is sometimes an aid to the huge pressure Covid-19 crisis is placing on economies and societies globally. With many transit agencies around the world facing a huge drop in ridership and resources reduction since the start of the outbreak, the pressure is there for sure. These conundrums are very real with many transit and Microtransit industries finding this extraordinary situation a heavy cross to bear.

RushOwl’s solution to this is practicing a daily mantra: safe mobility programmes to power rider’s commuting needs while leaving nobody behind. Needless to say, this is easier said than done, especially when your day job involves running hundreds of buses in full shared commute mode.

In this blog post, we highlight the unprecedented challenges affecting the public transport services, in particular Microtransit, and ways in which right on-demand Microtransit solutions can deter many of the current health risks facing our transit network.

The Challenges of Microtransit in 2021

Covid-19 has brought about some of the biggest challenges for people across the globe. Who would have thought that a year ago that employees would all but have ceased working in offices, and virtual online meetings are gradually becoming a daily occurrence. In fact, some may never return to an office environment full time, if at all.

Business travel has also ceased, with Bill Gates recently said he thinks 50% of business travel will disappear. Of course, at some point, business travel will recommence, but many CFOs who control company budgets do not see business travel ever returning to the pre-pandemic level.

It is also during this stage that many small to medium corporations are terrified that they would suffer the same fate. And, what does this mean to Microtransit? With the Microtransit industry having to adapt to a ‘new normal’ in transiting people around, each transit agency will have their own puzzle to solve.

Whilst on the one hand this is a positive and necessary move going forward, the “challenges” posed by this can be arduous. Some of these challenges may include meeting the standard operating procedures, maintaining exceptional rider experience with limited resources, and striving for an equitable mode while leaving nobody behind.

In addition, Microtransit also faces the challenge of building extra bus services to fill specific niches and offer rides that can be more affordable. This is especially true since more and more riders are eyeing Microtransit during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, in order to avoid crowded buses and trains that was once, and still is, a common sight in Singapore.

In short, issues will arise and it takes many creative and strategic solutions to address these and other challenges that are presented to Microtransit during the pandemic.

RushOwl’s Covid-19 Measures

Although the global Covid-19 had accelerated declining ridership and resources reduction during the start of the outbreak, the human mobility in the post Covid-19 recovery is looking good with ridership numbers stabilising and rider loyalty growing (given the improved services to better meet rider demand and their evolving needs).

Recovery is on the horizon, and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel because of the brighter outlook offered by vaccines as well as the Covid-19 curve that is beginning to flatten in Singapore. On-demand options are gradually becoming the expectation for many riders.

So those of us at RushOwl take our jobs seriously in doing what we do best: moving people from place to place in a safe and efficient way. We take Covid-19 measures seriously by aligning transit services with the demands of riders, and by using virtual stops for pick ups and drop offs to avoid crowded bus stops. These offer better social distancing measures and the ability to trace how many riders there are in a vehicle.

We also practice contact tracing and frequent sanitisation of our buses for increased safety. Riders are still expected to wear masks at all times during the ride. All these can greatly reduce the risks of transmitting the disease while transiting since the virus can spread easily between people in close proximity.

Further, on-demand answers the needs of today’s riders with the ability to pay with contactless means of payment, especially by mobile, to reduce handling of money. This is already in line with our vision of moving into a cashless society with just a few powerful taps of the smartphone.

Ultimately, using data-driven solutions, contact tracing, frequent sanitisation and technology all together, they create a recipe for success during uncertain times like this.


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