Transport User Voice – April 2021 – Ventilation and cleanliness

29 March 2021

Views from our Transport User Community

How important are passengers’ perception of ventilation and cleaning on public transport? Do these measures make them feel safe? We took these questions and more to our Transport User Community.

Rail passengers are keen for ventilation on trains, while bus passengers said they want more cleaning on buses.

The preference for both rail and bus passengers is to have open windows for ventilation rather than air conditioning systems. Open windows are more visible and it’s a closer feeling to being outside. Also there were some concerns and scepticism over air conditioning not working.

Best option for clean fresh air is to open windows and let natural air in and out of the bus. Not convincing of ventilation systems as air can be recycled back in buses.” Female, 50, Scotland, bus

Ventilation: even if I’m cramped, fresh air is known to limit chances of contamination.” Female, 30, north east, rail.

Since the pandemic, expectations for cleanliness on public transport have changed from ‘tidy’ to ‘sanitary’.

There is an inherent view from the community that buses are unclean. This is coupled with an uncertainty on what cleaning measures, if any, are in place. While this mainly comes from those who haven’t used the bus, those that have mentioned they’d like to see more visible cleaning. Rail users on the other hand have more trust that operators have put in place sufficient measures in response to Covid-19.

We also asked our Transport User Community how they felt about other factors that could impact on their feelings of safety such as social distancing and face coverings. There was a feeling that having adequate space on buses and trains is beyond the control of passengers. Similarly, while there is a desire for face covering compliance, there is reassurance in wearing one themselves and many are resigned to the fact they can’t control whether other passengers do so.

It was clear from this research that ventilation and cleaning measures alone will not be enough to provide the assurance passengers need that public transport is safe. But, not only are they important to boost passengers’ confidence, they can make a real difference when used alongside other measures.


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