Increasing COVID-19 resilience of public transport
Offerings to mitigate risks for passengers and operators
By carefully monitoring the situation and taking measures to protect employees, customers, and partners, Siemens Mobility helps you operate efficiently, economically, sustainably, while mitigating risk.
Mobility is essential for society and economy. It connects people to jobs, social networks, education and leisure activities. This is always the case, but it is essential in the COVID-19 pandemic to keep society healthy and running. We believe, seamless, safe, reliable and sustainable mobility is only achievable with public transportation and rail at its core. We can ensure that for the entire mobility ecosystems – from the first to the last mile.Michael Peter, CEO Siemens Mobility
Global COVID-19 transport trendsPassengers and operator staff members are making their way to the new normal - many innovative products and solutions can support them along their intermodal journeys.
Meet Dave.Dave is 32 years old and a researcher at the National University Singapore (NUS). In the last months, he’s been working from home. As things start returning to normal, he’s begun commuting a couple of days a week from his apartment on the outskirts of the city to the university. Let’s trace his journey on such a day.
To increase capacity and demand, both the government and the transport industry need to show Dave that his commute in the new normal is safe across all modes of transportation. The ability to have a fully transparent journey at his fingertips guarantees Dave an excellent passenger experience.
Making a smart and safe decision when travelling in public
Most people are conscious about avoiding COVID-19 risks, but it is hard for travelers to predict how others will behave and when they will encounter congestion on public transport.
The COVID-19 minimum routing application can predict occupancy levels for lines, stations, and single services – seven days or more in advance.
Passengers can make smart and safe decisions
- Adjusting and planning routes to support social distancing
- Inform up-to-the-moment via mobile app or passenger information monitors
- Find routes with the lowest occupancy
- Minimize their risk of exposure
Transportation at your fingertips
With fewer travelers, public transport might operate less frequently. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) allows authorities and operators to offer flexible mobility options. Such options help increase passengers’ confidence in safe transportation, securing their long-term loyalty.
As a first step toward MaaS, operators can integrate new first and last mile choices into their trip offers, from shared bicycles, scooters, and cars, to Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) modes operated through mini-bus services.
Seamless integration for passengers
- Easy, dynamic, and digital experience
- Tapping into a variety of traveling and booking options
- Planning and booking from start to finish
Reduce contact with potentially contaminated surfaces
Given the risks of infections via ticketing machines, service desks and queues, travelers are discovering more and more the benefits of online ticketing solutions.
Contactless ticketing via a smartphone is not only safer, it’s easier
- No need to understand the tariff and pricing system
- Calculation of the best tariff for the trip
- Automatic check-ins and check-outs
- Digital ticketing data can be used to calculate occupancy levels for specific lines and even individual services
Transportation when needed
While mass transit can transport large numbers of passengers to their destination, in a pandemic, demand may vary and can be difficult to predict.
This is when Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) solutions are useful. The DRT solution system from Padam Mobility, a Siemens partner, provides first and last mile transport services and can be aligned with scheduled rail and bus services.
Advantages for a safe travel
- Choice of alternatives to mainstream public transport
- Booking of bus services via an app or web-based service
- Avoiding crowded circumstances
After carefully planning a safe and secure journey, one that keeps him socially distanced, Dave is ready to set out. Now he needs up-to-date, real-time information to help him steer clear of crowds at bus and railway stations. With this additional information, he experiences his entire journey as safe and reliable.
Contactless door solutions for entry and exit
As a surface frequently touched by passengers, the exit button poses a risk for transmitting viruses. The standing area around the button is also often responsible for delays during stops.
With contactless motion detection, doors open automatically and effortlessly as needed, as in the Siemens Mobility ICE trains in Germany. In existing trains, motion sensors can be retrofitted. In new trains, this option can be specified at the outset.
Automatic doors: the solution of choice
- No need to push the button on train doors
- Reduced virus transmission
- Shorter dwell times at stations
Avoiding frequently touched surfaces
Trains are shared spaces, which increases the risk of surface transmission. Additionally, to meet the requirements of social distancing, not all seats can be occupied.
To handle both issues, Siemens Mobility offers custom-made 3D-printed parts as part of its focus on additive manufacturing with Easy Spares Next Generation. These custom-printed pieces like door handles, adapted bin lids or temporary seat blockers are constructed of polymers.
Benefitting from innovative materials and technology
- Easy-to-clean surfaces
- Easy-to-install or -remove parts
- Recyclable pieces reducing the overall carbon footprint
Air sanitation within rail carriages
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system on trains creates a comfortable temperature for passengers. The system regulates the exchange of air from the outside, with filter systems to minimize pollutants such as dust. As it is pressure-protected, the HVAC system ensures fresh air inside the train. However, circulating air can also circulate germs and viruses and so poses a potential risk for passengers.
Options in HVAC to reduce the risk of spreading viruses
- Increasing the volume of fresh air from the outside
- Equipping systems with high-efficiency particulate air filtration systems, that filter out bacteria and viruses
- Installing additional air disinfection units with high efficiency
Besides those improvements for existing trains, Siemens Mobility runs Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) simulations to show the spread of micro-droplets in trains – and further improve the handling of the pandemic in the train industry.
Traveling with information
During peak times, but also in exceptional situations, a large number of people want to exit a train at the same time.
The Passenger Information System Plus (PIS+) flexibly provides information in real-time on train delays, malfunctions and incidents. It not only provides travelers with orientation but gives appropriate guidance as well.
Additional functions to improve the handling of COVID-19
- PIS+ can easily be modified to include specific COVID-19 regulations.
- Depending on the passenger’s location, it can provide related information for trains, stations, city, or state
- Displays show door-specific information for each station and COVID-19-safe directions to ensure social distancing
All information at your fingertips
With the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers often feel uncertain about the best way to proceed. Passengers want full transparency, and all the information they need, to judge their safety risk.
The passenger information app can provide precisely that information, helping to reinforce loyalty and trust. In addition, the functionality increases the operators’ and authorities’ flexibility to adapt to changing conditions.
Features that passengers benefit from
- Customized messages, for example on the current safety situation, directly displayed on mobile phones
- From static tutorials to dynamic customizable news
- Feedback options, such as on occupancy or general well-being
Dave may consider his trip on a train or bus to be the point at which he is at highest risk, but his journey doesn’t end there.
For him to feel safe on the last leg of his journey, authorities and operators need to take the appropriate measures to instill trust in the public transport system, from beginning to end.
Improve throughout and increase safety
Railway stations, where train lines come together and people wait for their next train, have the potential to contain a significant number of people in a confined space.
The Siemens Mobility Capacity solution tackles this problem directly.
Transparency for optimized passenger flows
- Display of current occupancy of the station and platforms
- Forecast of upcoming passenger volume – using external data like the weather or specific events
- Showing when and where people are keeping to social distancing guidelines
- Guidance of passengers through the station
- Measurement and analyzation of dwell times
Green wave for cyclists
During the COVID-19 pandemic, cycling has become a mode of transport more frequently used in many cities. Transport authorities and traffic operators need to handle that shift back towards individual traffic options.
Siemens Mobility supports them in their effort to optimize the performance of road networks.
With green wave solutions, advanced detection and counting, shared fleet management software and gamification apps. So, more people can be motivated to use bikes more often, and operators gain information about routes and traffic.
Benefits for individual traffic
- Increased safety and comfort for cyclists
- A smooth flow of traffic
- Saved CO2 emissions
Public authorities have warned passengers to avoid the use of public transport, which has led to decreased confidence in both mass transit and interurban rail solutions.
Traveler relationship management helps operators communicate with their passengers even after the trip is over. Enhancing apps with additional features, such as a “safe trip” rating function or loyalty programs, is an effective way to understand passengers’ needs and feelings.
Benefit of direct communication options
- Passengers feel listened to and understood
- Passenger confidence and loyalty are increased
- More people are brought back to the environmentally friendly public transport
Design and planning
Emma’s journey starts with the strategic design of the public transport systems in collaboration with transport authorities and the planning of the operational processes.
Optimizing mobility services day by day
Passenger travel is now less predictable. Operators, however, need to know not only what is happening in their system at any given moment, but what is likely to happen in the coming hours and days.
AI-driven mobility analytics provide deep insights on the impact of COVID-19 on passenger behavior by analyzing relevant information such as trip requests, station occupancy or the number of transfers. Mobility Analytics is based on the HAFAS system of HaCon, a Siemens company (the leading software specialist in Europe for planning, scheduling and information systems).
- Valuable insights on COVID-19 impact and countermeasures
- Enabling proactive management, so as to keep mobility running smoothly
Finding the best post-COVID-19 mobility plan
During the pandemic, finding a new way of operating was very much in focus. However, it is also necessary to prepare post-COVID-19 plans. Innovative software enables cities to simulate and study the impact of different schemes or operational plans to adapt their post-COVID-19 mobility plans.
Optimizing response plans systematically
Aimsun, a Siemens Mobility company, software has dedicated simulators to enable sophisticated modeling and testing of a wide variety of schemes and operations plans.
- Pop-up bike lanes and social distancing on pavements
- Public transport capacity and scheduling
- Increased demand for micro-mobility options
- Diminished demand or strategies for reducing peak demand
Flexibly changing the prioritization of traffic modes
Due to the pandemic, cycling – and individual traffic in general – is on the rise. So, cities and municipalities have to continuously adapt to changing situations using intelligent traffic management systems.
Our adaptive AI powered management system allows cities to additively manage traffic demand according to mobility policies.
Opportunities for operators
- Change of the priority of road use, as well as different quality parameters
- Traffic flow optimization for cycling and individual traffic to reduce congestion and CO2 emissions.
Avoiding the crowds
Commuters often choose the same train carriage: the one closest to the station exit. As a result, some train cars are crowded, others empty. To meet social distancing requirements, operators need to be able to limit the number of passengers boarding and manage those already on board.
Siemens Mobility offers a vehicle occupancy detection system, enabling operators to monitor the number of passengers on trains, and their location.
Social distancing made easier
- Vehicle occupancy-based passenger distribution
- Effective planning of schedules and timetables
Development and operations
Offerings to increase the COVID-19 resilience of public transportation enable Emma to keep up the systems while efficiently managing daily operations.
Delivering as promised
Siemens Mobility is proud that during the pandemic it has kept its factories open, using safe working practices to deliver projects on time, as promised to customers. In addition, we have optimized traditional engineering, testing and service processes and brought them to a new, more digitized level. Thereby, Siemens Mobility leverages its vast experiences with digital technologies, such as augmented reality solutions and Building Information Modelling (BIM), to support remote project work.
Foster continuity in joint business projects
Digital tools and infrastructures are now used to replace in-person appointments with remote options in close collaboration with the Siemens Mobility team onsite - e.g.:
- Remote factory acceptance tests and commissioning
- Remote network systems testing
- Remote vehicle handover
Running trains at higher frequency
The need for social distancing means reducing the number of people on mass transit systems at any time, which means, in turn, running trains more frequently. But this higher frequency of service can be both expensive and difficult to resource with available trains and staff.
Opportunities with an Automated Train Operations (ATO) system
- Running more trains economically efficiently
- Increasing infrastructure capacity
- Improving punctuality while reducing maintenance and downtime costs.
Siemens Mobility has offered this type of automation system on metros for many years and a first pilot on the automation of trams is underway in Potsdam, Germany. The Thameslink project in the UK will be the world’s first commercial ATO application in mainline rail services with ETCS.
Reducing surface transmission
While the number of drivers in a train cab during any one shift is limited, there is the potential to spread the virus through contact with hard surfaces. Keeping surfaces safe means significant cleaning at the end of each shift. The activated coating for driver cabins is currently tested and in the pilot phase.
Ensuring safety through activated coating technology
Siemens Mobility provides a coating that enforces active and continued sterilization on all hard surfaces in the driver cab.
- Continually sterilized surfaces and touch points
- Easy to apply and maintain, no need for additional cleaning
- Bonding at the nano level after being sprayed on hard surfaces
- Activated by non-harmful far-UVC light that is continuously available in the driver cab through fixed bulb installations
- Antibacterial and antiviral overlay available for added protection - high-touch surfaces (such as door open and close buttons, and brake levers)
Orchestrating the mobility landscape
Even before the pandemic, the change in mobility caused a more diverse traffic. The current situation has accelerated this process. Sitraffic Symphony, the mobility operating and advanced traffic management system, helps transport authorities and cities remain in the driver’s seat and regain control of urban mobility.
Sitraffic Symphony: Gaining insights through a holistic approach
- Integrating a wide range of road traffic, public transport and third-party subsystems, applications, and services
- Predict, monitor, manage and orchestrate complete mobility landscapes
- Opportunities for authorities and operators, for passenger and freight transport, as well as for MaaS providers
Managing road transport
Now that travelers perceive public transport to be of higher risk, the number of car trips has increased significantly in some cities. Rebalancing the system will take more sustainable mobility options as well as smart demand management. Road user charging and dynamic tolling is likely to form part of the answer.
Rebalancing traffic through real-time data
Siemens Mobility has pioneered the next generation of dynamic tolling technology for cities with a “bring your own device” solution. Mobile phones become part of the network and provide cities with necessary real-time data to operate the system.
As maintenance work begins to take the lifecycle of equipment and devices into account, Emma is able to increase the value of all transportation assets across their lifetime.
Efficiently disinfecting assets
While a train is in the depot for a regular check, many technicians handle the same tools. They also work in high-touch areas. Sending in cleaning teams beforehand is time-consuming, as is asking technicians to use hand and surface sanitizer at every step of the process. Siemens Mobility offers an all-in-one service solution for your workflow and maintenance schedule.
Reducing the risk of contamination
UV light helps to rapidly disinfect surfaces in a dry, sustainable and safe way.
- Using a handheld device, irradiation takes less than a second
- A 360º UV disinfection chamber can be used for objects of various sizes and for groups of objects in just 30 seconds
Qualified support from a distance
The mobility industry is a global one. Often trains must be transported from other sites, suppliers may be based in different locations and support may be required from an expert.
Efficient and safe maintenance and service
Remote maintenance via a helmet camera reduces the need for in-person visits and person-to-person contact.
- Onsite technicians can show support experts problems firsthand
- Experts can show onsite staff exactly how to undertake a procedure
- Experts can perform all their health and safety checks.
Before the pandemic, passengers used public transport in a fairly predictable manner, with associated data in times of high demand generally available. Now, passenger needs and demands have changed. For some, working from home is now routine. Others try to avoid peak times. And some have limited their travel to relatives and friends.
Use idle times intelligently
The Siemens Mobility Railigent® application suite - powered by MindSphere - generates easy-to-understand insights on rail data. The resulting benefits include:
- Optimized maintenance schedules
- Implementation of additional features and modernization
- 100% system availability
Optimizing the value of mobility assets
The COVID-19-related dip in mobility demand also affects operators financially. Siemens Mobility has several individual financing and service offerings helping to manage budget restraints. For operators, this means stable and predictable payments and a transfer of availability risks.
Immediate access to liquid capital
- Purchase of Siemens Mobility assets at market conditions
- Fleet modernization, including demand-based lifetime extensions
- Fleet maintenance by Siemens Mobility Customer Services
- Leaseback agreement, based on availability payments