How has transport been affected by Covid-19? What new travel patterns identified are here to stay in the long-term?
Alex Kreetzer from Autofutures recently interviewed Cubic’s Director of Commerical Strategy Richard Springer to hear his views on the latest developments in the transport and tecnology sectors amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
So, Richard, how has the traditional ‘nine-to-five’ changed in recent years and how has this reflected travel and transport?
In recent years we have seen the rise of the traditional ‘nine-to-five’ getting longer for commuters. Peak travel patterns typically occur between 6 and 10am and then again from 4 to 7pm. This is what we at Cubic refer to as the ‘11-hour workday.’
On weekends, travel begins later, presumably as people enjoy a lie-in and take their time before starting their days of using transport. Travel time is spread out more evenly across the weekend.
If there was anything we couldn’t prepare for, it was Covid-19. What kind of effect has this had on transport, both in the short term and long term?
We see data from millions of devices and vehicles daily. In terms of usage, a new pattern has emerged. The predictable data set we were working with is suddenly very unpredictable. The new normal is entirely different to what we are used to.
This is the first time we are experiencing a prolonged period of behavioural change, with the average number of daily trips changing. However, the time it took for society to adapt to this change was surprisingly fast.
Within 2 days, the 11-hour workday became a 2-hour workday for travel peaks. Only half of the people who were travelling everyday are now getting into their cars. And this is for short duration trips.
It is surprising how quickly people adapt to new circumstances and can change their lifelong habits within a matter of days – this new pattern is based on millions of data sets.
What does this mean for remote working and, in contrast, transport?
The new pattern emerging could perhaps indicate what we will expect if remote working becomes more popular in the future, such as steady travel throughout the working day – travel times not all taking place in morning and evening commutes.
With the restrictions of working in an office removed, ‘hour of travel’ has altered significantly.
Will we see the death of rush hour?
Companies and people have had to adapt to remote working in a short space of time. In addition, there has been an extended period that this has been in effect. At this stage, companies and their employees know if it suits them or not.
An 8-hour workday from home may prove to be more productive in terms of output and employee satisfaction. This may well be the end of the traditional rush hour. Or may bring on a different rush hour, for example, lunchtime trips to the gym or evening trips to the supermarket.
What effect will this have on transport, be it shared or personal?
In a world where the traditional rush hours have changed, we could see several impacts. If a volume of people no longer travel to business districts traditional transport means (public and key commuter routes) will no longer be in as high demand. There will be greater need for alternative destination options (places of activities would need to be served instead of business districts).
There may be a rise in car ownership due to limited options for public transport. There may be greater shared options as people meet up with friends after work to travel to activities.
There should be less time spent in cars, or at least less time spent going to places that are not leisure destinations.
We will no doubt continue to see the flattening of the rush-hour curve.