We at Ecolane powered over 13 million people traveling over 139 million miles, supported over 12 million trips last year and we're proud of those stats. Last year, we were awarded 40 new contracts and completed 29 software implementations. We have now surpassed 10,000 mobile data terminals operating in transit operations worldwide. These achievements and growth have allowed us to create some ambitious initiatives for 2020 that we're looking forward to seeing come to fruition.
The coronavirus has not dampened our enthusiasm; but we are being proactive to offset the ramifications that COVID-19 has brought to all businesses, including the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) who advocates for those of us in the transit industry.
As you probably know, the APTA's 2020 Legislative Conference was cancelled this year due to the health risks of COVID-19. This conference is imperative as it allows transportation industry voices to be heard in Congress.
In light of those cancellations, we've put together an informational capsule to help keep you abreast of current public transit appropriations and funding legislation. This includes emergency legislation which has been introduced to offset the public transit losses through the rest of the year.
2020 COVID-19 EMERGENCY LEGISLATION
We recognize that public transportation agencies have been asked to provide extraordinary safety measures to their passengers, none more profound than asking their riders not to use their systems except for essential purposes only. APTA continues to advocate for agencies especially for funding purposes. You can access the APTA Response to the Coronavirus page for updated information and financial resources here.
You know public transportation serves riders from every walk of life both logistically and economically. In fact, according to the APTA, there's a $4 ROI for every $1 invested in public transportation. It creates over 50,000 jobs for every $1 billion investiture. Notwithstanding the current pandemic, public transportation is safe, reduces costs, reduces gasoline usage, and our carbon footprint. Riders are able get to work, school, doctor appointments or to visit local attractions and friends. Although the conferences are cancelled, the legislative proposals are not. It’s hard to imagine but traffic congestion really could be worse and is literally at a standstill in many places of the country.
HOW TRANSIT WILL CHANGE
While the future remains uncertain, one thing is sure is that transit will change post COVID-19. Jarrett Walker, Principal Consultant at Jarrett Walker and Associates, in his COVID-19 article for Passenger Transport addresses the issue that the transit community needs to stop using the distinction between the riders who make a choice to ride transit systems, the “choice riders” and people who are solely dependent on transit as a whole.
To make a distinction between choice and dependent riders usually requires the understanding that the terms refer to each end of a spectrum and transit usually aims to capture those who fall in the middle of the spectrum. Walker also mentions the fact that in order for our country and economy to be successful during the pandemic we must thank those essential workers who are going into work every day and are thus still in need of public transportation. To further paraphrase Walker, since those essential workers are dependent on public transportation to make it to work, and society is depending on those workers, we are all essentially transit dependent.
The transit industry is re-evaluating its purpose. Transit is more than moving people from beginning to end of their journey, transportation is about helping people while they are on their journey as a community. Agencies assisted their communities by moving essential items and food to members of their communities in need.
Transit operations will also change because prior to COVID-19 there was a push to maximize seating on vehicles. Transit operations were deemed successful by the count of their ridership. Once COVID-19 hit, that required a change in mentality. Riders needed to maintain social distancing not just from themselves but from their drivers as well. Agencies enacted emergency protocols and even suspended fare collection so that passengers and drivers were not unwittingly passing the virus from person to person. Agencies needed to enact payment features that allowed for no-contact of money or item and this required a hard look into the technology surrounding agencies.
HOW THIS CHANGE AFFECTS YOU
The transportation industry will continue to serve both its riders and those transit agencies providing service to those riders. That's why Ecolane felt that this blog post would be so important to the transit community to discuss how the changes would affect agencies in terms of funding and in terms of technology. Agencies have groups like APTA or the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) that work hard to meet the changing needs of the transportation industry.
Through all of this change, agencies need partners that can help them prepare for the future. Ecolane has been assisting our partners for over 18 years and has the proven ability to adapt to changes quickly. During the pandemic we’ve helped our clients deliver food and essential items to customers, adopt to no contact policies, add breaks between each client to enable longer vehicle sanitation times and to enact trips that only allow one passenger at a time to ride the vehicle to stop the spread of COVID-19.For more information, request a demo from Ecolane today.