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How will Covid-19 affect high ridership season

As Quarter Four (Q4), otherwise known as “high ridership season” approaches, we take a detailed look at how Covid-19 may affect high ridership around the globe and how rail operators can remain proactive. In 2018 it was reported “8 billion passengers travelled on national railway networks in the European Union” (Eurostat Statistics Explained). The American Public Transportation Association reported last month that in 2019 “Ridership across U.S. public transit agencies rose 2.2 percent compared to the same time period in 2018”. Furthermore, in Q4 last year, “New York City Subway had an average daily ridership of 9,117,400, Washington Metro averaged 816,700 and Chicago “L” averaged 695,300” (Wikipedia).

Building on the success of 2019s Q4 ridership, we may see a decline due to Covid-19. The Guardian reports “New research suggests that Covid-19 has shifted attitudes to driving versus public transport back by two decades, with almost two-thirds of car owners now considering their vehicle essential. A clear majority would now refuse to switch to a greener alternative even if better trains of buses were available, according to the RAC.” One option to improving ridership for 2020 and to play-on the success from 2019 will be to ensure passengers feel as safe and comfortable traveling during Covid-19. Below, we will evaluate what operators can do to ensure a successful high ridership season, amidst a pandemic.


Nomad’s CCTV capabilities provide a safe journey for both passengers and operators, with the operator’s time and resources in mind. Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic it has never been more important to provide operators and passengers with reassurance when they travel. Therefore, during high ridership season, monitoring how busy public transit is will provide vital information for the operator to proactively provide a safer journey. CCTV footage can be accessed via a live or past feed, to suit the needs of the operator. Proactive measures can then be put into place for busier periods such as additional standing and seating markings, which are implemented to ensure the passenger can have a safe and comfortable journey – socially distanced. Transport operators’ focus on passenger and staff safety is fully supported by Nomad’s on-board security systems. By upgrading existing CCTV systems to give real-time visibility and recordings of images and videos, you can extract footage remotely. Furthermore, now that analytics is high on the agenda, applications such as Nomad’s Passenger Counting, can now all be hosted and operated on Nomad’s Onboard Data Centre.

CCTV mounted camera with AI integration

Safe Entertainment

A train or metro journey can be a great opportunity to do some reading, catch up on a TV show, or even watch a movie. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, physical entertainment sources such as static media (newspapers, magazines and audiobooks) are no longer practical due the spread of the virus. Operators can keep their passengers entertained and safe by digitally uploading their static media to a portal to be accessed by passenger’s smart phones, helping to eliminate the spread of the virus (touching contaminated items). Operators can take further steps and personalise the landing page of their portal to broadcast safety bulletins, further protecting their passengers.

Media can be updated periodically by the vehicle operator and provided to their passengers in an offline format. This benefits the passenger by providing a better viewing experience and improving internet connectivity as the available bandwidth is not used up streaming media. This also has financial benefits for the train operator in reduced data charges.

Remote Online Condition Monitoring (ROCM)

Remote Online Condition Monitoring provides in-depth and real-time information on the performance of crucial equipment and components on-board – partnered with diagnostic alerts – providing fleet operators and owners the intelligence and sufficient time required to take pro-active action. Ultimately leading to improved service reliability and availability of the rolling stock. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we will expect to see a reduced ridership going into Q4 (high ridership season). Operators can look to prolong their services by either scheduling a reduced service or an improved rail maintenance schedule. Due to the predicted decline in ridership, operators can save money and resources by delaying their maintenance period with ROCM. So, in theory, as there are less passengers onboard, there should be less stress on the components of the train. In other words, it is not likely to break-down or experience as many malfunctions as it would have in Q4 of previous years (pre Covid-19).

Final thoughts

Operators should prepare for high ridership season with passenger safety at the forefront of their priorities. We can expect a reduced ridership in Q4, compared to previous years due to Covid-19. It is important to make the passenger feel safe, to encourage an increase in ridership, in effect benefiting both the operator and the passenger, only if it is safe to do so, depending on government and local area advice.

This article includes examples of solutions which may be adapted to increase passenger safety, to learn more – please contact the team relevant to your region.