Mass Transit in the Face of COVID

The outbreak of COVID-19 across the globe has led to shelter-in-place orders and lockdowns nationwide. With the closure of schools and businesses, mass transit has seen a dramatic drop in ridership as many people now forgo their morning commute and are learning and working from home. Municipal railway systems in major metropolitan areas that are used to servicing thousands of commuters per day will have to ensure that safety is at the forefront as cities across the globe begin to reopen and people return to some semblance of normalcy in their workday.


Before the spread of COVID-19, trains were seen as the fastest way to bring suburban commuters into major cities and subway/metro networks were known to be the most efficient way to get around those cities. It was not abnormal to see packed trains at any hour of the day ranging from rush hour commuters to sightseeing tourists. That all came to a screeching halt once the spread of COVID-19 became a global pandemic. 


As reopening continues around the world, people are gradually being called back into their offices. With warm summer weather, many commuters within major cities are able to walk to work and take advantage of lighter than normal traffic by using private ride shares. As an increasing number of schools and businesses continue to reopen in the fall, the changing weather will lead riders back to mass transit systems that they had previously relied on without a second thought as to whether or not their personal health could be in danger. 


Mass transit companies must bring safety to the forefront to give riders the peace of mind they deserve when riding trains and utilizing metro/subway systems. RailEyes offers a wide array of products that can help ease these concerns by promoting safe riding practices, encouraging social distancing, and protecting high-touch surfaces with products like TouchPoint, a 3M certified anti-microbial self-cleaning film covering.


To promote social distancing, RailEyes products offer the ability to post messaging on escalator steps and risers for riders to ensure that they are maintaining a six-foot separation as recommended by current CDC guidelines. Handrails can also be outfitted with messaging reminding riders to “wear a mask” and maintain a “safe social distance”, among others. Graphics can also be placed on the floors of train cars and platforms indicating where riders should stand or sit to maintain social distancing. 


TouchPoint, on the other hand, is a multi-use 3M certified wrapper that can be applied to a wide array of high-touch surfaces. The product is antimicrobial and self-cleaning and stops the spread of germs and diseases such as COVID-19 by killing pathogens on contact. Trains that see high levels of ridership come with inherent high-touch surfaces such as poles and bars for riders to hold on, seats, turnstiles, ticket machines, and interactive maps. Having this wrapper applied not only increases rider comfort that they are not risking contracting the virus, but it also allows mass transit companies to save time on frequent deep-cleaning and disinfecting of train cars and stations, making this a win-win for both companies and riders alike.

Zachary Stein

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