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Coach operator helps customers to social distance while travelling

Zeelo has developed an application that helps people to maintain social distance while using its services during the Covid-19 crisis, as well as support customers to contact trace if necessary.

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Zeelo's measures include capping the number of passengers on coaches
Zeelo's measures include capping the number of passengers on coaches

British coach operator Zeelo has developed an application that helps people to maintain social distance while using its services during the Covid-19 crisis, as well as support customers to contact trace if passengers travelling were to develop symptoms later.

 

Zeelo has previously launched a critical-worker service to help NHS staff and key workers in the pandemic. Now it’s urging companies, schools and local authorities to think differently about mass transit at this time.

 

Real-time updates

 

Co-founder and Zeelo CEO Sam Ryan explained that the software can provide real-time updates on passenger numbers for each route, allowing users to book knowing they will be two metres apart from the next passenger.

 

The technology also enables contact tracing so if a rider informs the company they are showing symptoms of the virus, fellow passengers who may have been travelling with them in the past can be alerted.

 

It has also introduced personal protective equipment (PPE) for drivers, the use of only the middle doors and a zero-contact policy.

 

Zeelo chairman Michael Liebreich, also a former Transport for London board member, offered up a three-point plan.

 

“First, mayors, municipalities and transportation agencies must act decisively to rebuild trust in mass transit, so that people feel safe using it even before the virus has completely disappeared.

 

“Second, they must promote active travel and micro-mobility, not as a nice-to-have, for sustainability or health reasons, but as a public priority in order to keep cities moving and to enable robust economic activity.

 

“Third, they need to find creative ways to increase capacity, especially during rush hours, by creatively integrating private sector and smart mobility transport providers, many of whom will be sitting on idle capacity.”

 

The technology is currently being used by logistics giant XPO. Martin Coughlin, director of XPO Logistics (Europe), said: "Online distribution centres remain open and encouraged (night and day) so at XPO our dedication during these uniquely challenging times has been to review and do everything we can to keep our employees, their families and loved ones safe.

“First, mayors, municipalities and transportation agencies must act decisively to rebuild trust in mass transit, so that people feel safe using it even before the virus has completely disappeared.”

“Coupled with changes to our processes to enable social distancing, the Zeelo service has been crucial in minimising the risk raised and posed by colleagues regarding initial concerns to public transport usage whilst the UK was adapting to the new normal.

 

John Johnson, director of Johnsons Coaches and chairman of the Confederation of Passenger Transport’s Coach Commission, welcomed Zeelo’s critical worker safety procedures. He added: “Coach operators are facing a real struggle if something isn’t done to arrest the drop in passenger confidence.

 

“Companies and schools need to seize the opportunity to provide safe transportation with an existing fleet which already serves the UK well.”

 

Among the overall package of measures taken by Zeelo include:

  • All services will be fully sanitised before and after each journey by trained drivers
  • Drivers will be suited in PPE to reduce the risk of infection spreading;
  • There will be a no-contact policy onboard – drivers will check riders passes without contact to riders or their phones;
  • The number of people on vehicles will be capped so that every member of staff has 2m spacing around them to reduce social interaction;
  • Hand sanitiser will be offered on all services for riders;
  • Various service options are available – including taking people from temporary accommodation such as hotels as well as residential locations.

Zeelo currently drives more than 5,000 people to work each day across the UK, with key hubs in the Midlands, South West, North West and Home Counties.

 

It has also unveiled plans to expand its offering in Ireland and Italy, in addition to growing its customer base in South Africa.

 

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