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/ PARKING & MOBILITY SPOTLIGHT/SHUTTLES

Adapting to the New Normal of Shuttle Service By Stan Bochniak and Jim Norris

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HE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS CHANGED the parking and transportation industry in countless ways. Cor-

porate offices once filled with hustle and bustle have mostly turned into ghost towns, resulting in significantly decreased need for shuttle and transportation services. So, what’s next for the future of shuttles? As pharmaceutical companies race to distribute vaccines, a vision of life returning to normal draws closer. According to research conducted by Gensler, only 12 percent of people want to continue to work from home full-time after the pandemic subsides.1 This indicates that occupants will be returning to offices in record numbers and forward-thinking operators will be prepared for the influx of shuttle passengers. Now is the time to develop a plan so when workers return, they can be met with seamless and safe transportation options.

Identifying Rider Concerns Public distrust in the safety of ride-sharing has increased due to COVID-19. Studies conducted by CarGurus and the IBM Institute for Business Value found that of the 26,000 American adults surveyed, around half have developed a distrust for

ride-sharing services.2,3 Public transportation numbers have taken a hit as well. According to data collected by the National Transit Database, monthly public transit ridership is down 65 percent compared to 2019.4 As a service that traditionally economizes rider travel, it’s understandable patrons would be wary of returning to shuttle use. According to a survey conducted by the Yale Center for Consumer Insights, top shuttle safety concerns include the potential of the virus living on surfaces and the close proximity of riders to one another5. It is important to note that within the same Yale study, researchers found that safety messaging on shuttles plays a critical role in rider confidence. In scenarios where the shuttle bus did not have

safety messaging, only 27 percent of participants were likely to ride the shuttle, compared to 53 percent who were shown messaging with images displaying preventative health measures.5 Passengers will also likely be wary of waiting in groups for shuttle arrival, which means clear social distancing markers should be installed prior to reopening.

New Rules and Regulations According to the Milken Institute, the societal effects of pandemics tend to be long-lasting, often unfolding over years, if not decades.6 It is likely that as a society, we will continue to be hyper-conscious of the safety and cleanliness of our surroundings for the foreseeable future. Shuttle services returning in 2021 will