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The Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on the Transport Industry

March 26, 2020

The global COVID-19 lockdown has had a major impact on global transport networks:

  • Passenger movement around cities has virtually stopped, with a reduction in movements of over 90% across New York and London
  • Where people do have to travel locally, mass transit has proved unable to cope with social distancing, forcing the return of the car in city centres
  • International travel is mostly reserved for people making frantic trips home, with airlines reporting a fall in demand of over 80%

But while the use of the network has decreased considerably, transport remains vital during the lockdown:

  • Cities rely on essential workers who require safe, efficient and affordable transport networks to keep the healthcare and support systems running
  • The lockdown has created a surge in demand for home deliveries as people still require food and other essentials
  • Global supply chains need to be maintained to ensure that goods keep moving and that the crisis is not exacerbated by a shortage of medical supplies or food

Leaders of cities, transit agencies and operators around the world are grappling with these challenges. While there is no simple solution, an integrated approach is essential to ensure all modes of transport remain safe and operational.

Teneo COVID-19 Emergency Toolkits

In this time of crisis, mass transit needs to be built around the safety requirements of staff and passengers, whilst being closely aligned with the needs of city authorities, business leaders and medical experts. Our Toolkit for the CEOs of Transit Agencies outlines this integrated approach.

Over the last five years, new forms of mobility have emerged, ranging from ride hailing services through to electronic scooters and e-bikes. These new mobility providers have a key role in play in providing essential services during the crisis and demonstrating the social value which disruptive technology can deliver. Our Toolkit for new Mobility sets out how this can be done effectively.

The global transport network is also struggling from a drastic drop in revenue. Airports, ports, railways and toll roads all need clear survival plans, while Governments around the world must recognise the need to ensure the financial viability of its infrastructure and the institutional investors who support it. Our Toolkit for Toll Road Providers identifies the issues and solutions for one part of this sector.

While the industry is currently focused on the immediate crisis, once operational resilience plans have been enacted, transport leaders will need to begin to think about their recovery strategies. This will require a detailed understanding of transport demand in a post COVID-19 world, where long-term customer travel patterns and expectations may be fundamentally different. Our Toolkit on understanding future demand highlights the key opportunities the industry should focus on.

As the market and environment continues to change, transport operators will need to evolve their businesses to address these shifts and respond to emerging opportunities. In this climate, the role of the Chief Recovery Officer will become key to help organisations adapt. Our Toolkit for the Chief Recovery Officer maps out the key requirements to achieve this.

Role of the Transport Network

COVID-19 has catalysed significant disruption in travel demand, whilst also creating unprecedented operational challenges. Nevertheless, transport continues to have a key role to play during the current crisis and will remain an essential service when the world recovers. Transport leaders must therefore address current challenges and drive the evolution of the industry to maintain safe, efficient and reliable services throughout the crisis, recovery and beyond.

The views and opinions in these articles are solely of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Teneo. They are offered to stimulate thought and discussion and not as legal, financial, accounting, tax or other professional advice or counsel.

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