Ultimate Guide to Transportation in India post-Coronavirus
Updated: Feb 8, 2021
The Coronavirus has surely made us believe that the only constant in life is change, and this change has been life-altering. Every person is now preparing for a post-COVID19 world, a world where safety and survival will be the basic necessities, a world where masks and sanitizers will become more important than water and food, and a world where we’ll think twice before coming in contact with anyone new. It got me wondering how our commute will be different post-COVID, not just daily commute that will be different but how traveling in airplanes and trains will look like? Let’s take a look at how traveling in a post-pandemic world will look like specifically focusing on traveling in India in a post-COVID19 scenario.
The biggest industry when it comes to traveling and transportation is the airline industry. The pre-COVID revenue of the airline’s industry stood at 873 billion dollars in the world, which has now dropped to almost half of it! India had a passenger count of around 160 million in 2017! It’s safe to say that air travel will have the most impact considering the monetary juice it requires to maintain an airline.
How will Air Travel in a post-COVID world change?
How will the cost of air travel change post-COVID19 is the first thing that comes to our mind. While there is a common misconception that ticket prices are ready to soar, this is not true. Keeping in mind the fact that a traveler will want to choose safety over pleasure, the number of passengers is going to decrease. Not just for leisure, since all the offices have adapted and loved the concept of work from home, business travel will also come down significantly. As a meeting that earlier took hours of traveling and a lot of money can now be easily done by staying at home. Moreover, airlines will have to gain more trust in the travelers and will have to offer huge discounts too.
Digital and Touchless Travel will be the first thing to be implemented in and around the airport and airplane to maintain the norm of social distancing. Digital won’t just mean no physical boarding pass but even the Visa and the Passport might have to go entirely digital to make sure there is no contact between the passenger and the crew at the airport.
No peanuts at 35,000 feet anymore. Airlines will stop serving food in the view of Coronavirus being spread through the removal of masks and gloves for eating. So, how will we eat during a flight amidst the Coronavirus? Well, packaged food on airports instead of flight will be the best solution for staying safe.
Baggage Sanitizing and screening will become as common as baggage checking. We have already seen some airports in a few countries screen bags using UV rays to check for the possibility of Coronavirus on them. When we think about traveling on an airplane, we never really consider how easy it is to transport our belongings through it but now we’ll miss the days this was true. There might be more checks for baggage and also a restriction on the number of bags each passenger can carry.
Face masks, shields, and gloves will be the new common while traveling on an airplane. We have had reports of the Indian government making it necessary to wear gloves and masks at airports and have also instructed all the airlines to provide face shields to the passengers. It is a great move by the authorities considering how close a person sits on an airplane. Considering the fact that the middle seat in a flight will not be left empty, having a face mask and shield will have to be necessary.
Get ready for Empty Airports and long queues. Airports will have to go a complete overhaul making things work amidst this pandemic. Airports experience maximum footfall as compared to other transportation mediums. At Delhi airport, the busiest airport in India, almost 2 lakhs passengers used to land or depart at the airport. This will change entirely to shift towards empty airports, where people are standing and sitting 3 feet apart, the safe distance for coronavirus. Making the queues long and waiting time high.
Health checkups and certificates may become mandatory to ensure a smooth flying experience. A temperature gun is not enough to conclude whether a person might be suffering from Coronavirus or not, to make sure we have a process that makes traveling easier in a world where the Coronavirus is like a common cold, airlines and airports can make it mandatory for travelers to have a Coronavirus test done in 7 days and present a certificate for the same for being eligible to travel in an airplane.
Airport shops, food courts, and restaurants will dry up and maybe even forced to close to keep this pandemic in check. A major source of revenue for any airport authority, and the reason why early check-ins and coming early to the airport is recommended, are the outlets at the airport. These stores though necessary for the operations of any airport will have to remain shut or operating at minimum capacity.
Masks, Sanitizers, gloves instead of Pepsi, Lays, Water. Vending machines will change the kind of essentials they process. A lot of travelers will vary from eating or drinking at the airport or even in the flight. Masks, sanitizers, gloves, and other essentials will be the right path to take in order to ensure the safety of travelers, and also generate little sales for the companies.
Time to reach the airport will no longer be dependent on the traveler, each passenger of a specific flight will be allowed to enter the airport premises in a specific time slot to ensure minimum congestion and crowd at the entry gates of the airports.
The major question that needs to be answered is when would international travel resume, well international travel has technically resumed but when it will get normalized is something that will take a lot of time. Countries are putting in provisions for international travelers, that too, coming in from specific countries and with a definite, acceptable reason. This will clearly shift the masses towards domestic traveling and towards exploring the roots of their origin. As for India, the roots are deep and still unexplored.
Air travel is the most preferred way of traveling when it comes to taking vacations. Since Coronavirus has stopped or halted the option of traveling through air or anywhere for that matter. The air travel industry is going to take the biggest hits considering the fact that these airplanes require a very high cost of maintenance even when parked idly.
Check out Arjun Siva's experience in a flight traveling from Mumbai to Chennai during Coronavirus and how surreal the experience was.
Train Travel post Coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know:
With the few points staying the same as in the change in air travel, the Coronavirus will have a different impact on traveling by train. Before the pandemic because of this deadly virus, trains and train stations were filled with people and total and beautiful chaos could be seen in the wee hours. This is bound to change drastically.
Before the Coronavirus, when the world was safe to travel, we used to just go to a train station, go towards the ticket counter, and buy a ticket to our desired destination. This is going to change entirely. When the train services started in India for some routes, the train tickets were only available online for each category of the train. Just to ensure no long queues and not a lot of people gather at the ticket booth.
There was this concept in ticket reservation for trains in India where you can book an unconfirmed ticket that will put you in a waiting list. This waiting status changes if a person who had a confirmed ticket cancels their ticket. This won’t be the norm anymore, only tickets that have been confirmed and the passengers who have these confirmed tickets will be allowed to board the train and reach their destination.
How would you feel if I said there will be no stops during your train journey? No going out on the station for those cheap water bottles, or the wafers of an unknown domestic brand. To avoid congestion on stations, the train will journey non-stop from the source to the destination.
Less Luggage in a train means fewer chances of passengers contacting. A provision to allow only 1-2 bags per passenger will come into place to make sure social distancing is kept at all times. Also, the passengers will be made to walk through disinfectant tunnels with their bags to help decrease the chances of getting in contact with the virus.
Being healthy amidst the pandemic will be the main objective of each traveler. Not only for travelers but for authorities as well to ensure that the spread is contained. Only those passengers will be allowed to travel in trains that have no symptoms and maybe in the future, a health certificate can be like a passport to traveling in trains.
No food, no linen, no blanket, and no vendors will be available on the trains and the train stations. Moreover, the berths in each of the trains will not have air conditioning to ensure that the virus is not spread through the air in which it can live for around 3 hours.
In India, traveling by train is preferred over any mode of transportation when it comes to domestic traveling, around 8.42 billion passengers traveled by train in one year. Being the largest train network in Asia and the second largest in the world, the Coronavirus will definitely leave a long-lasting impact on the train network in India.
Elisha had perfectly described how train traveling in India really, she also describes how a traveler could go about traveling in India before the Coronavirus.
How will traveling in a vessel full of people on the sea with no way to exit look like post-Coronavirus?
Cruise traveling is all about surfing through the open sea, with a sense of calmness and tranquility. But the problem with cruise ships is that a bunch of people travel and stay together for a long time, and if just one of the travelers, or maybe even just one of the baggage, equipment, or just a spoon carries the virus, the whole ship might be compromised.
It goes without saying that there will be screening for Coronavirus for each traveler and staff coming on board the ship. Again, the concept of health certificates being travel passports is something that might become mandatory for traveling on a cruise post Coronavirus.
Since a cruise ship has limited space and generally, these ships are pretty much crowded with people, this is set to change. A limited number of people will be the norm to set out on a cruising sail. Not only the number of people will be fewer but also the days that the cruise ship will go out in the open waters will be set to reduce. Small-scale traveling on cruise ships will be the new trend for travelers.
Food is a major concern when it comes to going out on cruises. Having a buffet system on cruises will be done off with completely. Dining-in can be a perfect replacement for avoiding contact during the course of a meal as people will interact and move less.
For a touchless or a contact-less world, the best bet to guarantee a safe travel experience, especially in cruises, is by replacing human staff with robots. Getting vending machines for food and other essentials, having a food-train concept in cruises where instead of a waiter, food is brought in moving tracks.
A lot of cruise providers are pushing towards a 14-day quarantine period after a long cruise. Thinking of it realistically, a traveler is highly unlikely to opt for such an experience to travel for a few days just to be stuck at home with essentials.
Personal cruise ships will be the ideal choice for every luxury traveler. It will ensure social distancing as there will not be a lot of people on board, all the amenities of a luxury cruise will stay intact, and who doesn’t like a little privacy in the open waters?
Transportation is going to change severely, and the thought of it is definitely overwhelming. Here is a blog by Vrinda Singh that you should definitely read about to keep negative thoughts during Coronavirus away.
Wait. Isn’t local public transportation going to be affected the most from Coronavirus?
India has a lot of people and a lot of people travel every day for work, leisure, or just to get out of their houses. When I think of getting out of my house, I see no further than the Delhi Metro but how will the Delhi metro change its operations in the post-Coronavirus world? Not just the metro but how will buses, taxis, or rickshaws change after this pandemic is over and social distancing rules are still in effect?
Metro Services and local train networks have taken a hit.
Considering the fact that a majority of the population chose Metro and local train for commuting every day they have taken somewhat of the biggest hit. The fact that the metro and local train were cheap, had an expanse network, and a convenient mode of transportation, made them the ideal go-to method of going from one place to another. Metro and local train have halted completely.
Maintaining social distancing in these already crowded places is a major hurdle, not just a hurdle but almost impossible. If you’ve ever traveled on a local train, you would know that it is filled with people. Having restrictions and managing such a network is going to be hard and also to adhere to social distancing, there will be a lot fewer people in the trains with the same cost of operations, thus, making it infeasible for the authorities too. To resume operations in a viable manner, the cost to travel in a metro will increase but since no restriction can be put in the number of people entering the stations, it will be a challenge to resume operations any time soon.
Buses have already started their operations.
Local buses have not been halted for long in India. With strict restrictions and norms, the buses have resumed plying for the general public. There is a restriction of 50% capacity in a bus that too has been lifted by a few states. But if you’re thinking of traveling on a bus, we would advise you to wear one mask and carry an extra one with you for when the other mask gets torn for some reason.
Sanitizers have been made a must on every bus but you can never be too safe, so do carry a sanitizer as well. Leaving a seat in the middle is definitely very much in play when it comes to restrictions and we are pretty sure that will be the norm in a post-Coronavirus world as well.
Earlier, when you could've just bought a ticket on the same day, even a few hours back, to travel from one state to another in India on a bus, Inter-state buses have restricted operations as well. Though they have also resumed operations in limitations based on the frequency of a route, the urgency of traveling from one place to another, and keeping the passengers to a bare minimum, it will be a huge change today. You can check out how Liz Deacle experienced sleeper class buses in India before Coronavirus and figure out how this will only be possible pretty much after a few years.
Modern India's ride, Cabs.
Taxis have evolved a lot in modern India and with the arrival of cab-aggregators, it had become a common mode of transportation for a lot of everyday passengers. Taxis have also resumed operations but with a lot of different restrictions, not just because of the rules placed by the government but to make a passenger feel safe during the entirety of the journey.
With the arrival of Ola, Uber, and other cab-aggregators, traveling in a taxi has become more of a travel experience rather than just reaching a destination. These aggregators are going all-in to make the end-to-end customer journey a safe one. A cab is a place where a driver and a passenger and in close proximity which is why the Indian government has made it mandatory to allow only 2 passengers in one cab.
The cab drivers must wear masks and gloves during all trips and to give every passenger a sense of safety, all the cabs will be sanitized after each trip. The best move has to be installing a glass or a fiberglass partition between the drivers and the passengers for maximum safety. Though this rule has only been given to cab drivers by specific state governments, most of the drivers are opting towards it to prepare for a post-Coronavirus world where this virus is just another part of life.
Also, to ensure a contact-less travel experience in a taxi, many aggregators have made it mandatory to have only an option of a cashless cab ride. A traveler will have to either add money in a pre-paid wallet or add their card details to continue a ride in a cab during the pandemic of Coronavirus.
The most loved public transports, Rickshaws, will go an overhaul too.
When it comes to last-mile connectivity, very common transportation in India is the rickshaws. Now, there are a number of different rickshaws in India, a three-seater auto, a cycle-rickshaw, a hand-pulled rickshaw, domesticated animal-pulled rickshaw, and the newest eco-friendly transportation, e-rickshaws. These transportations provided food on the table for many destitute individuals looking for work. Since Coronavirus entered our lives, these simple workers had been the most affected due to depending on daily operations for getting decent meals.
Since the virus affected their lives a lot, the Indian government did give each one of us affected the essentials at many different centers and also keeping in mind how lost a rickshaw driver would be without any work, the traveling operations of rickshaws were the very first that began in many parts of the country. Since there are only limited things that can be made sure to keep these rickshaws safe from the virus, only masks and gloves were made mandatory. Some of the smart and responsible drivers did put up screens to have a safer journey.
To be honest, public transportation will never be the same at all. Even if the coronavirus manages to fade away any time, the impact of job-less will always haunt public transportation. In India specifically, a lot of these workers came from small villages and now have returned to their villages where they now have jobs for production. Also, the fact that an individual is more likely to trust their own car and maybe even go to lengths to buy one just to stay safe from the coronavirus will also play a huge role.