Transit in the new normal (Part 1)
STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete (The Freeman) - September 22, 2020 - 12:00am

As we enter the 9th month of the Covid-19 pandemic, reckoned from the time it became world news in January, we’re still nowhere being definite on what the future of Mobility will be after this global change.  There had been huge worldwide upheavals in the past but not as widespread as this one since the time God flooded the earth leaving only 8 persons alive.  Plus, the reproducing pairs and numbers of the other species, of course.  Even the 2 world wars and other calamities and disasters in the past were not as widespread as this one.

If there is anything that is certain, it is that our lives will never be the same again, not only in terms of our individual lives but also in terms of how society, cities, and countries move on in the search for better things.  The pandemic has taught us that a lot of things we think and do before were based more on whims and wants and not on necessities and efficiency and effectiveness.  Being locked down in quarantine has proved to us that not only we can do without a lot of things, but we can do a lot of other things while not leaving our homes.

Consider paying your monthly bills – mobile cellphone accounts, water and electricity bills, insurance premiums, cable TV – these can be done online.  Food? – breakfast, lunch, supper – use your cellphone to order.  That goes for groceries, too.  As well as many other household items you can order online.  Even some medical consultations can be done as well.  Online classes for students have already started, and thriving at that!  Work-from-home (WFH) is a vogue, so are conferences and seminars (aptly called webinars nowadays), including international ones.  We miss travelling of course, especially to other countries, but it seems these won’t come back as often as before.  Many people don’t like these, especially the ones who can’t stand not being outside and with lots of people.  That’s where you measure the “wants” and the “needs” of individual people – some still want to go out to public places even at the risk of perpetuating the pandemic simply because they want to.

The future mobility scenario is another unknown at this time, of course, although we already have some glimpses of how it may look.  There are already a number of “webinars” and “consultations” with regards to how transit may look in the future, but unfortunately, the public sector seems to be lagging behind in understanding the basic assumptions required because they are still “concerned” with the “economy.”  That’s why there are moves to risk even more infections by relaxing medical protocols just to ramp up transit, mostly in expanding the supply already hampered by social distancing.  Little is done on how to scale down the demand which is a fertile ground to work on.

So, let’s try to stir up discussions on the many aspects of mobility in the new normal.  Most of these will just evolve from the way we adjust the way we live.  It’s something unknown but it's an exciting future.  (To be continued)

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