Years after, again the whole world is under the grip of a dreadful pandemic. At many places the economy is about to collapse. Thus, we have to start moving. But at this moment, we cannot move the way we were used to. Thus, the current situation has created enormous scope for the transport sector to foster innovation to enhance passengers’ safety.
The risk of getting affected by the coronavirus is much more while using the means of mass transit. So, the safety aspect in the mass transit facilities has started gaining unprecedented attention these days. The survival time of coronaviruses on surfaces has shown large variability – ranging from 2 hours to 9 days, and it is airborne too.
According to the latest (June 16, 2021) communication from the (US) Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, one of the major operating components of the (US) Department of Health and Human Services, “If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic. Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
However, in India as well as in many other countries, as the percentage of full vaccination is still low, we have to be more restrictive and protective as far as using the mass transit systems are concerned. I was talking about the innovations in the transportation industry, let us see a few of them in the next sections.
Safety measures in DICV’s new buses
According to the information available from the company, addressing COVID safety concerns of the public during travel, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) has introduced ‘BSafe’ features for its new BharatBenz bus fleet to help ensure safe public transport. The buses will come equipped with a range of features that help prevent the spread of infection, including hands-free doors, sanitizers and temperature sensors.
To ensure minimal surface contact, the new bus comes equipped with a pneumatic door and hands-free sanitizer, as well as a hands-free temperature sensor and foot-operated trash can. In case of a passenger boarding with temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, an alert will be sent to the driver and a buzzer will sound. The bus entrance has also been furnished with disinfectant mats to clean viruses and dirt off the feet of the onboarding passengers.
The new BharatBenz bus comes with two seat cover options: one is an infection-proof cover that retains its anti-virus and anti-bacterial protection for up to 20 washes. The second is an easy-to-use disposable cover for passengers who want to avoid sitting on seats previously occupied and prefer a one-time use seat cover. Furthermore, the bus comes with a UV-Filter and Air circulation kit. The UV lamp kills up to 99.6% of airborne viruses while the air circulation system secures ventilation of fresh air from outside. This feature provides extra protection against any virus that may have entered the bus despite safety precautions.
To help ensure the safety of the driver, a glass partition has been integrated between the driver’s cabin and the passengers’ cabin. The driver is also provided with a COVID safety kit which consists of N95 masks, disinfectant sprays, hand sanitizers, and anti-bacterial wipes for regular cleanliness of the cabin.
From trash cans for designated waste disposal to informative posters with safety dos and don’ts, the BSafe safety features in the new BharatBenz bus provide holistic solutions catering to the new normal of travelling today.
Commenting on the features of the new bus, Karl-Alexander Seidel, CEO and Head of Daimler Bus India at DICV, said, “In response to the need of the hour, our BharatBenz Bus fleet offers innovative solutions to mitigate virus transmission. These vehicles address people’s apprehensions towards public transport by offering reassuring features in line with COVID safety and hygiene protocols. By equipping our products with ‘BSafe’ features such as hands-free doors, sanitizer and temperature sensors, we aim to revive the demand for passenger buses in India.”
Valeo’s protective shield against COVID-19
As per the information received from Valeo, the automotive supplier and partner to automakers worldwide: their protective shield against Covid-19, designed for buses, has been named the top innovation by the VDA (Verband der Automobil industrie), the German association of automotive manufacturers and leading automotive suppliers.
The company also informs that “This Valeo technology is currently the world’s most powerful air sterilization system for bus and coach cabins. It eliminates more than 95% of viruses, including Covid-19, as well as any bacteria or mold present in the air within vehicles traveling with passengers on board.” Its effectiveness against SARS CoV 2 has been scientifically proven by the Frankfurt University Hospital and the Institute for Laser Technologies in Medicine and Metrology at the University of Ulm (ILM).
The tests carried out by the ILM confirmed that Valeo’s UV purifier has the ability to eliminate viruses with 95% efficiency in a single airflow cycle. The tests also show that the air change rate is very efficient – higher than the level recommended by the World Health Organization to limit the risk of infection by the spread of airborne viruses and bacteria.
The Valeo UV Purifier system is part of the overall innovation strategy pursued by the Group, which aims to achieve mobility that is smarter – by reducing its impact on global warming – less energy-intensive, safer, capable of taking care of people and their health, and more easily shared with as many people as possible – thanks to its affordability. As the company states, “With this strategy in place, Valeo is currently the world leader in air conditioning and treatment systems for buses and coaches.”
Step to enhance safety for bus drivers
HÜBNER has developed a driver protection system to provide more effective protection for bus drivers in connection with the coronavirus. The company has designed a protective partition for the driver’s cabin. The protective partition is made of double anti-reflective safety glass with an antiviral coating (ESG ECE R43 E certifications). It is attached to the frame of the driver cockpit and cannot be opened by passengers.
Benefits of the system include: long-term durability, no wear on the door hinges, scratch-resistant material with no use of Makrolon or polycarbonate, effective protection with no visibility impairment and minimal vibration. The system is compatible with all standard bus types and on-board payment systems and can be retrofitted simply and easily.
In countries with high degrees of population like India, where the buses carry passengers not only in urban areas but also in the remotest locations, so far no much attention was paid on the health issues of the passengers as well as the drivers, but now it is the high time when we should be careful. We must install the latest air-purification technologies inside the buses. Also, the concept of complete isolation of the driver’s cabin must be given due consideration – as when most of the workers are at home, the bus drivers are active to keep the country’s mass transit system alive.
By P.K. Chatterjee