As social distancing and self-isolation in households become the normality to many, there is, in parallel, a crucial new infrastructure to consider. Key workers, their children and those depending on public transport for essential journeys must continue to be able to access safe and reliable services.

Within these measures, both equally important for containing and treating the spread of COVID-19, people and businesses are finding new tools to keep in touch and share information. As we all adapt to the challenging circumstances, Passenger immediately reviewed the needs of operators and their users during the crisis.

As part of the commitment to our community of operators, we began to consider what we can dismantle and build to best serve the current climate and its immediate needs.

Over the past week, listening closely to operators, we have offered a number of new or adapted tools to deliver an appropriate response.

‘Pausing’ Activated tickets

As the UK government issued guidance encouraging everyone to reduce their travel, customer requests for ticket refunds rapidly increased. The surge placed unprecedented pressure on operator revenue and staff. We responded by building a function to pause all active tickets with a simple step for users to re-activate when needed. This could be immediately (such as for key workers) or at a later date so that those with unusable mobile tickets wouldn’t lose out on the travel they’d already paid for. Importantly for operators, this retained that revenue.

Offering temporary removal of Things to Do and Rewards listings

As it doesn’t make sense to be promoting events and attractions at this time, operators were given the option to temporarily remove Things to Do content from apps and websites. On websites, we hid Things to Do content from navigation but not from the website itself, so that any SEO strategies are not negatively affected for future traffic via search engines. Several operators have now produced and uploaded children’s activity content that can be enjoyed at home to their websites. Rewards – which offers incentives to travel from local businesses – has also been temporarily removed from mobile apps.

Displaying Network Alerts on all pages of operator websites

An update was released to display current Network Alerts on every page of operator websites to help keep users informed of the most vital announcements in their areas. For those for whom travel remains essential, clear information about what buses will be running where and when is easily accessed

As the situation evolves, our team are responding daily to changes and continuing to deliver what operators and their users need, as quickly as possible. With passenger numbers down by an average of 85%, the nature of need for public transport provision has changed too. Operators are running far fewer daily journeys but are working hard to meet the needs of key workers. To do this they have quickly revised their schedules, incorporating feedback from the key workers who are relying on them daily to get to work, and put in place additional measures to keep their own key worker staff safe.

We are now focused on supporting operator customer teams as their own numbers reduce. Ad-hoc online training sessions for those that don’t usually manage content and data help to upskill managers and senior personnel who don’t usually handle the day-to-day tasks. 

Passenger CEO Tom Quay is already anticipating the next wave of support needed for customers. “We remain dedicated to delivering the changes and support operators across the country need. It’s been incredible to see the team at Passenger plan, build and deliver crucial updates in a matter of days, responding quickly to industry needs. We will continue to help our customers through this tough period and work to provide the kinds of tools needed to rebuild passenger confidence when the time comes”.

Currently, we are considering what may be required, how to reduce the handling of cash by drivers and a number of other impacts of these dramatic but necessary changes. 

We will continue to support the industry in any way we can, and keep operators connected and providing first-class communication to its passengers throughout the crisis. 

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