GCRF_NF359: Modelling the exposure risk tradeoff between public transit and private paratransit for transport decision making in the era of Covid19

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute for Transport Studies

Abstract

A safe and functioning transport system is vital to maintain economic activities in countries, developing or not. In most developing countries, the transport system is characterised by a crowded bus transit and micro-transit systems, supplemented by paratransits such as motorcycle taxis and autorickshaws. The paratransit sector is also a large source of employment (e.g. 3 Million motorcycle taxis in Nigeria, 300,000 in Kampala, Uganda, 104,000 in Dhaka, Bangladesh). The COVID19 pandemic has massively disrupted the transport sector and economic activities. In the project countries, motorcycle-based paratransits are banned from operating in order to maintain safe distances. In addition to disrupting travel and affecting the primarily poor users (prices in other modes have gone up), this has also resulted in massive unemployment and poverty among the drivers. However, there are also serious concerns about the safety of passengers in crowded buses or micro-transit vehicles, where maintaining appropriate distances are nearly impossible, and paratransits can be a viable alternative. The risks of virus exposure is also high in high occupancy vehicles due to the closed nature of the vehicles compared to the open nature of motorcycles and semi-open nature of autorickshaws. It may also be possible to mitigate risks in paratransits through barriers or shields. However, there are no studies investigating the relative risks of these modes, with or without the mitigation measures.
The project aims to model the exposure risk in different types of transport modes in order to allow policymakers to make an evidence-based optimum decision. The physics-based computer modelling will be accompanied by user surveys to understand their travel pattern, preferences and acceptance of various mitigation measures (such as shields designed using the models). Given the prevalence of micro-and paratransits in many other DAC countries, the results will be useful for other similar DAC countries too.

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