Public transport in Yerevan, Armenia, is severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Strict hygiene measures are indispensable to maintain operations and prevent infections.
Because the Covid-19 virus is transmitted through the air and through contact, it is important for people to socially distance and follow several other hygiene rules. This also applies to public transport such as bus services, where such measures are not always easy to implement. Passenger numbers in Yerevan’s buses dramatically declined during the pandemic.
The bus system was already facing serious challenges before the crisis, because public buses are very slow. Long journey times reduce the public transport system’s attractiveness.
The City of Yerevan aims to prevent Covid-19 from spreading among passengers on public buses and to maintain services, particularly for the city’s medical staff. In addition, it has to (re)gain passengers’ trust.
At the start of the pandemic, the Yerevan bus company, which is owned by the municipality, offered all medical staff free transport in order to support the health system. At all times, all necessary measures are taken to reduce the risk of the virus being transmitted in buses. Drivers are tested before each shift and vehicles are disinfected before and after every journey. Hand sanitiser dispensers have been installed in each vehicle. During the state of emergency, no standing passengers were allowed, although later, buses were allowed to operate at maximum capacity again, i.e. 45 passengers. All preventive and hygiene measures were agreed with the state and municipal authorities.
Yerevan’s bus company was not prepared for operations during a pandemic. However, the lessons learnt during the Covid-19 pandemic will enable it to respond more effectively in any future crisis. Collaboration with state and municipal authorities has proven to be effective.
During crises, public transport providers have to act quickly and in a coordinated way. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the providers have to be better prepared for such situations. In future, they will be able to build on the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr. Garik Siroyan
Sustainable Urban Development Investment Program