Impact of Covid-19 on Public Transport
The Covid-19 epidemic severely stunted our economic growth. With almost half of the world in lockdown, it comes as no surprise that the public transport industry took a hit. However, with the development of vaccines, the situation had improved in the past couple of months and most countries had lifted the lockdowns. Just as things seemed to be improving, we heard news of the new COVID-19 variant, the Omicron. This leaves us uncertain about the future of public transport, which can be detrimental to our economic development.
Shared transit provides many benefits to people as well as the environment. But, in order to limit the transmission of the virus, many restrictions were imposed on public transportation. Addis Ababa, Lagos, and Johannesburg are just a few of the major cities where public buses have had to run at less than 60% of normal capacity during lockdown. Let’s discuss the implications of the COVID-19 on public transportation.
In most developing cities, the public transport is often privately owned. This is why it becomes difficult for the government to enforce restrictions.
For example: In South Africa, many informal minibus operators refused to follow restrictions imposed by the government and said that it would make them go out of business.
Due to the pandemic, more and more people continue to avoid public transport. Data shows that people’s visits to public transit locations have decreased by 80% across IGC countries since the pandemic break out. Consequently, many operators either scaled back or passed the cost on to the passengers. This has resulted in the increase in fares.
Despite the higher cost and failure to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, public transport must not shut down. Not everybody has their own car. People from low socio-economic backgrounds cannot afford to have their own means of transport. This means that shutting down public transport will certainly immobilize them. This could make them lose their jobs or miss an important exam. If we don’t invest in public transport, more people will turn towards private transport. This would put us decades behind after all the work we have done for sustainable transport.
Improving mobility is crucial for economic growth. If the commuting cost is very high, people will work at a place that’s near their house, preventing them from considering better opportunities. This also hinders the companies’ ability to hire the best talent as they’re limited to hire from a specific location.
If we work on improving public transport systems, the mobility of people and products will become easier and efficient. People will be able to work at a place they love and companies will be able to hire best talent. This will contribute to the growth of our economy.
Public transport helps people save money, reduce their carbon footprint, and allows them to travel safer. It also offers people longer commutes and frees up the urban land for more creative use. This could boost the economic activity, thus, contributing to the economic development of the city.