Coach providers Zeelo and Snap have developed technology to enable people to use their services and maintain social distance and can also help contact trace if passengers were to develop symptoms later

 
Zeelo has already launched a critical-worker service to help NHS staff and key workers during the Coronavirus pandemic

 
Technology is helping an innovative transport firms Zeelo and Snap to provide socially-distant coach services to protect passengers – and with help contact tracing.

Zeelo provides “smart bus services” for commuters at companies such as Amazon, Argos, Ocado and Investec, carrying more than 5,000 people to work each day across the UK. The company is warning that passengers will only return to public transport if there is more confidence in the offering and it’s latest software aims to address this challenge. It is willing to share this tech with mainstream public transport operators.

Co-founder and Zeelo CEO Sam Ryan said that the new software will provide real-time updates on passenger numbers for each route, allowing users to book knowing they will be two metres apart from the next passenger.

The technology will also enable contact tracing, so if a passenger informs the company they are showing symptoms of the virus, fellow passengers who may have been travelling with them in the past can be alerted. The company has also introduced personal protective equipment for drivers, the use of only the middle doors and a zero-contact policy.

Zeelo has already launched a critical-worker service to help NHS staff and key workers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Now it’s urging companies, schools and local authorities to think differently about mass transit during the coronavirus pandemic.

Zeelo chairman Michael Liebreich, also a former Transport for London board member, offered up a three-point plan.

Mayors, municipalities and transportation agencies must act decisively to rebuild trust in mass transit, so that people feel safe using it even before the virus has completely disappeared

“First, mayors, municipalities and transportation agencies must act decisively to rebuild trust in mass transit, so that people feel safe using it even before the virus has completely disappeared.

“Second, they must promote active travel and micro-mobility, not as a nice-to-have, for sustainability or health reasons, but as a public priority in order to keep cities moving and to enable robust economic activity.

“Third, they need to find creative ways to increase capacity, especially during rush hours, by creatively integrating private sector and smart mobility transport providers, many of whom will be sitting on idle capacity.”

Snap, which matches demand for intercity travel with drivers and coaches from independent operators, will offer social distancing and full contact tracing from tomorrow (May 13).

By offering customised local pick-ups for workers, avoiding tube stations, bus stations or train stations, Snap says that it can help companies keep their workforces safe. Every vehicle is sanitised between each trip and free hand gel is offered to passengers. Each seat is used only once on each journey minimising risk further.

Every user has to pre-register online, so Snap knows exactly who will be travelling on each bus. The bus driver checks them in via a driver app so there are no tickets and no need for contact. The driver will only permit those who have registered, ensuring numbers of passengers travelling will not exceed the safety utilisation threshold.

Snap claims that it can create pop-up routes and customised pick-up points for workers “within a day or so”, drawing on data from its demand aggregation engine and the company’s workforce data. No-one outside of the company will be able to register or alight the coach.

Snap can also help minimise staff downtime with contact tracing for infection control. Following strict GDPR guidelines and with employees’ knowledge, if an employee contracts Covid-19, Snap can immediately identify which vehicles they have travelled on and who else was onboard, helping prevent the virus taking hold across their workforce. Snap can then immediately text everyone else who shared a vehicle with that person with agreed company wording.

The tube does not feel a ‘safe space’ right now and many of us are worried that social distancing in the office is pointless if people can get infected on the journey

“The tube does not feel a ‘safe space’ right now and many of us are worried that social distancing in the office
is pointless if people can get infected on the journey,” said Thomas Ableman, Snap’s founder and CEO.

“Employers are having to make tough calls, keep their business going, but at what risk to their employees? No-one wants a cycle of infection and self-isolation so we need to ensure that infection risk is minimised. Snap can be part of the solution while also utilising tens of thousands of tour coaches that would otherwise be idle this summer.”

Companies and schools need to seize the opportunity to provide safe transportation with an existing fleet which already serves the UK well

John Johnson, director of Johnsons Coaches and chairman of CPT’s Coach Commission, commented: “Coach operators are facing a real struggle if something isn’t done to arrest the drop in passenger confidence.

“Companies and schools need to seize the opportunity to provide safe transportation with an existing fleet which already serves the UK well.”

 
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox. CLICK HERE to subscribe to our e-newsletter.