With the pandemic and social distancing on the minds of everyone today, transit riders have been particularly wary of returning to rail transit and commuter rail. When people, organizations and even nations find themselves with grave issues like we’re facing with the pandemic, innovators often get to work to at least make the situation more manageable, if not resolve it altogether.
Metrolink, Southern California’s commuter rail service, announced last week that it has introduced an online tool called “How Full Is My Train?” that enables Metrolink passengers to look at how many riders have been aboard a train they would like to ride so they can make sure they can maintain social distancing while on board.
If passengers find that a train they want to ride is full, and they can afford the additional time, they can use the application to determine which car or train offers a greater opportunity for social distancing, based on seeing the number of people who have ridden that train or car.
Metrolink Board Chairman Brian Humphrey said that “We know that safety is top of mind with our customers. Safety is foundational at Metrolink – and a shared responsibility. Riders are required to wear face coverings while on our platforms and on board our trains. This tool empowers the rider to practice social distancing.”
Metrolink riders are most concerned about social distancing and cleanliness, according to a recent Metrolink Customer Survey. According to the survey, about 81% of respondents said they would ride with Metrolink again, and 29% said they would return to Metrolink after shelter-in-place orders have expired. The survey also revealed that riders are not as interested in things like electric outlets and Wi-Fi, but more interested in having hand sanitizers on every car.
The “How Full is my Train?” application is just the latest in a series of measures Metrolink has implemented since March of this year. A press release from Metrolink outlines the cleaning and safety protocols already in place:
- “Enhancing cleaning protocols, which include wiping down regularly touched surfaces such as doors, restrooms, head rests, armrests, handrails, tables and trash areas using disinfecting products, as well as the daily use of electrostatic sprayers that mist hospital-grade disinfectant on all areas of train cars – especially helpful for hidden and hard-to-reach locations.
- “Introducing a new Clean Care Crew dedicated to cleaning and disinfecting trains throughout the day.
- “Installing hand sanitizer stations on each train car, and ensuring they are filled more often.
- “Requiring face masks and coverings for anyone on board Metrolink trains and on Metrolink platforms and providing conductors with a limited supply of face masks for riders who have forgotten their face covering.”