The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic drop in demand for public transit worldwide. In some jurisdictions, ridership has fallen by up to 80 percent as governments and organisations urge people to stay home and many businesses and services remain closed. Some transit users are also opting to take their vehicles, bike or walk, instead of travelling alongside others on subways, streetcars and buses, where there is a higher risk of contracting the virus.

The significant drop in ridership is a problem for transit operators that rely on paying customers to generate revenue and sustain their services. Until a vaccine becomes widely available, transit authorities will have to find ways to maximize ridership by optimizing infrastructure such as stations, trains and buses, while also managing COVID-19 risks to keep commuters healthy and safe. The adverse effects of COVID-19 will also likely extend well beyond a vaccine, with riders now more aware and sensitive to the potential health and safety risks of being in crowded public spaces.

Modelling tools to help transit get back up to speed

The solution for transit authorities is to develop new passenger flows and capacities that enable physical distancing. To make it work, operators will need to be nimble, adapting quickly to changes in ridership, new or amended government requirements and shifting public attitudes. If transit authorities can accomplish this, they have a greater chance of regaining public trust, which, in turn, should gradually lead to an increase in the use of their services.

One solution to help plan and design a more sustainable, effective public transit system during and after the COVID-19 pandemic is using Dynamic Pedestrian Simulation. It is a low-cost modelling tool that can evaluate and predict pedestrian behaviour and flow on public transit. For instance, Dynamic Pedestrian Simulation can be used to check that passengers in line are safely spaced under various pedestrian traffic flows, while considering other related variables, such as traffic delays on the streets or increase in their travel time. The tool also helps staff responsible for transit regulations and health and security issues evaluate their decisions and various pedestrian scenarios.

Widening the application of Dynamic Pedestrian Simulation modelling to other social spaces

While Dynamic Pedestrian Simulation is designed for public transit, it can also be applied to many other sectors and venues such as airports, stadiums, tourist attractions, cruise ships, museums, cinemas and casinos, which are also experiencing a drastic decrease in users as a result of the pandemic.

Now is the time to prepare for the future. Let us help you

Dynamic Pedestrian Simulation is a sophisticated modelling tool that, to be effective, requires an expert modeller with an extensive background in transportation systems. With over 30 years of experience, Ausenco’s team of simulation engineers and analysts possess the deep breadth of skills, experience and know how necessary to carry out robust and defendable studies that enable our clients to make better-informed operational and infrastructure planning decisions. Our professional engineering consultants ask the right questions and define the right problems before developing ingenious solutions that meet your needs.

Let us help you #FindABetterWay today – contact Soheil.Mardani@ausenco.com or Jason.Smolensky@ausenco.com with any questions.

Download a copy of the white paper “Using dynamic pedestrian simulation to optimize urban transportation systems in a COVID-19 world"