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Maximum public transport safety and routes called „For COVID HEROES“ in Vilnius

The smooth and safe movement of public transport was ensured during the whole quarantine in Vilnius. This service did not stop in the city for a moment, only night buses were cancelled. Passenger flows were closely monitored daily. Compared to  volume of people movement before quarantine, the flows during quarantine decreased by 65-78 percent. The good news is that as quarantine eases, flows have already increased by 11 percent.

Revenues from the sale of public transport tickets, local tolls and parking lots in Vilnius of the public transport organizer the Municipal Enterprise "Susisiekimo paslaugos", decreased by 80% during the quarantine period. Nevertheless, the company does not currently plan to apply for financial support. However, the situation is being monitored and support would be considered, if needed. It is forecasted that during the quarantine (until June 1) the company will have lost about 5 million Eur only for unsold public transport tickets.

During the quarantine, various necessary measures and solutions were applied in the city to ensure maximum safety for passengers and PT drivers, not forgetting travelling convenience. Passenger flows have been and are constantly monitored, schedules are being flexibly adjusted, while passengers are regularly reminded of the basic rules - to keep distance, wear protective masks, disinfect hands, and travel only when free seats are available.

All vehicles are ventilated and disinfected much more often than usual. In addition to ticket verification function, during the quarantine period public transport controllers coordinated passenger flows.
Drivers have been also been taken a good care of. Their workplaces are separated from passengers by special lanes and glass shields, they are provided with all necessary disinfectants, and drivers do not sell one-time paper tickets on the bus.

Great attention and help are being given to doctors, health staff and hospital workers in general. Vilnius organizes free public transport routes for them. The routes, called „COVID HEROJAMS”, take all hospital workers to work and back home. About 6,000 medical staff and workers have travelled on these routes since the mid-March. Vilnius public transport organizers have combined their efforts with other transportation, car rental and sharing service companies. Many of them have also contributed to the transportation of medical staff.

From May 11, when quarantine easing began in Lithuania, Vilnius residents are gradually returning to public transport. The number of trips on weekdays has already increased about 20%. However, bus and trolleybus travellers are always  reminded of the basic requirements for safe travelling.

Finally, traveling around the city on environmentally friendly vehicles (bicycles, scooters) is also increasing. Possibilities for combined trips (public transport and walking) are emphasized. On average about 2,300 cyclists and 580 pedestrians per day were registered on Vilnius streets in May.

Text and photos: Dovilė Marčinskaitė & Birutė Jatautaitė, Vilnius Transport