There are many “unsung heroes” in times of crisis, and we recognise that our public transport professionals are some of them. Our ‘Guardians of Mobility’, are an integral part of the front liners keeping essential services available throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the course of these next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from our own community on what’s being done to keep public transport operations running around the world, and to shed a little light on our sector’s contribution to fighting this pandemic.
Today, we hear from Metro Istanbul, sharing experiences from Turkey.
Known as Turkey’s largest urban rail systems operator, carrying more than two million passengers every day, Metro Istanbul had a massive responsibility to take all necessary precautions to keep minimal services running safely.
Metro Istanbul began working on preventative measures, together with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality before the pandemic reached the country. Until now, Metro Istanbul has been working side by side with local municipalities in a unified effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
To protect passengers, all equipment and surfaces that come into regular contact with passengers or staff are rigorously disinfected, often with a fogging method that contains anti-allergen and anti-microbial substances that do not harm human health.
The team also prepared films and images related to the disinfection and cleaning of the vehicles and stations so that passengers can be aware of what’s being done. These images were shared on digital screens and social media accounts to reduce the psychological stress that some passengers may have felt while being in a public space during this time.
Work shifts for front line staff were coordinated so that they would not have to come in contact with each other, and various hygienic protocols came into effect to keep staff safe. In addition, Metro Istanbul started to apply administrative leave for employees with chronic health problems, disabilities, for pregnant women, and for those over 60 years in age, in accordance with local decree.
“We’ve followed every possible measure to keep staff safe, because that has always been our top priority”, said Şevket Kaya, Head of Corporate Communications & Brand Management Department at Metro Istanbul. “We work to take care of them, and they work to take care of us. To me, that’s very inspiring, and that keeps us all going!”
Service changes needed to be taken to prevent heavily crowded trains. Night lines were temporarily suspended, as well as specific lines that serve mostly touristic purposes. Due to these measures, Metro Istanbul suffered a 90% decrease in passenger demand.
Yet, minimal services continued for the sake of the city. Beyond that, free travel is being offered to all healthcare professionals using public transport in the city.
“We’re still facing massive challenges at this stage to keep things running”, said Şevket Kaya. “We must continue to make regular risk assessments and monitor our inventory… We know our city is counting on us!”
Thank you to our Guardians of Mobility in Istanbul for their dedication!
Missed our story from Tehran Metro? Catch up here!
UITP is doing its part to support the public transport sector in this unprecedented time. Please see our dedicated webpage on all of our activities surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic for more information on what's available. This includes multilngual webinars and a Factsheet translated in several languages (including Turkish).
Stay tuned to hear more stories from the front lines around the world…