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.