During a time of pandemic, even simple tasks like getting to and from work can be fraught with difficulty and danger. While many workers in the UK have successfully made the transition to home-working, this isn’t always possible. There are some jobs, after all, which can’t be done via Zoom.
So how have commuters been coping, and how have businesses contributed to the effort? Let’s take a look.
Having a small bottle of alcohol-based sanitiser to hand makes for a travel-friendly alternative to soap and water. It’s been produced in unprecedented quantities in recent months.
In the early days of the pandemic, there wasn’t much choice available when it came to facemasks. Moreover, many were unsure of whether masks actually work. Well, it turns out that they do work. Coronavirus comes suspended in water droplets, which can be blocked by the right kind of fabric. Competition between manufacturers has allowed effective masks to be provided very cheaply – and there are a range of options available. Commuters are advised to be aware of them.
Contactless payment was around before anyone had even heard of Covid-19, but there were much lower limits on the amount that could be placed on a single transaction. The British Retail Consortium swiftly intervened to raise the limit from £30 to £45, thereby reducing the number of fingers that had to come into contact with keypads, and eliminating possible vectors for transmission.
Train operators like Govia Thameslink and Great Northern Rail have taken similar steps to digitise their ticketing system, in stations in Cambridge and elsewhere. Barcode readers allow passengers to display tickets using their smartphones, saving them from having to actually visit an actual ticket office.
Stringent cleaning measures have been put into place on trains and buses across the country. Tom Moran, the Managing Director of Thameslink and Great Northern, drew attention to the measures: “People who need to travel with Thameslink and Great Northern can already do so with confidence thanks to our intensive cleaning regime and long-lasting viruscide.”
The availability of air-conditioning may also be of benefit, allowing harmful airborne pathogens to be rapidly circulated away from passengers, and thereby limiting the opportunity for them to spread from person to person.
Of course, the novel coronavirus is transmitted by droplets of air, which limits its ability to spread from person to person where social distancing measures are in place. Passengers on public transport can keep their distance from one another – which is relatively straightforward when carriages are sparsely populated. By covering seats and rearranging carriages, operators have made it easier for passengers to maintain the appropriate distance – and to thereby keep themselves and others safe.