Innovation is common in the transport sector, but never has it been needed as much as it was during the pandemic. Many passengers lost confidence in their public transport networks because of safety concerns when social distancing was required, so providers needed to develop creative solutions and ideas to win customers back.
This paper brings together three managers from transport agencies in New Zealand and the UK and follows their journeys and innovations before, during, and after COVID-19 hit their jurisdictions. Though none of them were directly prepared for the pandemic, their careful thinking and creative ideas allowed them to make the most of the opportunities that presented themselves.
Innovation and creative ideas have always been part of the transport sector
- Before the pandemic, testing and trialling autonomous vehicles was the main priority for Transport for Greater Manchester
- In New Zealand, there were plans and strategies for innovation before the pandemic
- Auckland Transport used existing technology to advise passengers about occupancy rates of public transport, giving them the confidence to use the transport in a pandemic
- Waka Kotahi planned for how New Zealand will recover from the pandemic
- Collaborations and partnerships were key to success
- The key now is to ensure passengers continue to have confidence