Health and safety measures at public transit stations are crucial to prevent the spread of COVID-19. City buses and trains are most often used by our frontline workers, people whose essential jobs put them face-to-face with the general population on a daily basis.
Below, we’ll go over some of the most effective social distancing equipment for public transit. We’ll also present some strategies being utilized in the US and abroad.
While some of it won’t be feasible based on your city, the mode of transportation, or the layout of the station, we hope just as much helps to further the health and safety of your community.
- 1 Social Distancing Equipment
- 2 Social Distancing Strategies
- 3 Partner with a Crowd Management Expert
Social Distancing Equipment
Station, Platform, and Vehicle Signage
The easiest and most affordable form of social distancing equipment is signage. From paper bus stop shelter signs to digital platform messaging, stops have tons of opportunity to incorporate safety messaging.
Anywhere that’s usually an advertising area can be utilized as well. It may be worthwhile to see if your advertisers would be willing to incorporate safety messaging alongside their logo and colors. That can be a “best of both worlds” workaround that makes everyone happy – and keeps people safer.
In general, bold and bright colors with high contrast backgrounds are the most effective in getting people to stop and pay attention. Other tips include universal symbols, bilingual messaging, and encouraging wording, such as “we’re all in this together.”
Of course, keeping six feet apart, wearing masks, and regular hand washing are essential additions to signage. Here are more health and safety guidelines from the CDC specifically for public transit riders.
A Frame Signs
A Frame Signs are one of the most versatile health and safety products. They’re used at farmers markets, grocery stores, restaurants, banks, and, of course, public transit stations. They’re also an important product for screening and testing areas.
The reason is because they can be quickly updated to reflect the most current guidelines. They’re also a familiar sight, so people know to read through what’s presented.
A Frame Signs can be placed at entrances of train stations as well as other high-traffic and important areas. The more encompassing the information, the less likely people will approach personnel with clarifying questions.
As a bonus, once COVID-19 is behind us, there are countless other uses for A Frame signs. For example, they can encourage more caution around cleaning or maintenance areas.
To implement floor stickers, simply place them six feet apart, starting with the first one six feet away from the final entry point.
Obvious areas include train station turnstiles, ticketing areas, and even escalator entrances.
But, at this point, you’ve likely already considered floor stickers for your train station. But there’s also a good chance they’re scuffed beyond recognition. This is especially true for areas with inclement weather conditions.
The reason is that many companies jumped at the sudden demand for floor stickers. And the result was subpar floor stickers that weren’t made to last very long. In all fairness, we all thought this would be a lot shorter than it’s turned out to be.
At Sonco, we’ve developed durable floor stickers with high-contrast colors and enough room for a person to stand within it. That way, you can worry about the next thing instead of when you’re going to need to replace your floor stickers.
Retractable Belt Stanchions
We already knew retractable belt stanchions are versatile and effective crowd control. But we didn’t realize just how adaptable they can be until we needed to encourage six feet of space between individuals.
Given the fact that standard retractable belt lengths are 6.5 feet, why not use them to showcase proper social distancing spacing?
Whether through messaging on a custom belt or clarified through stanchion post sign frame, retractable belt barriers are a step up from retractable belt barriers for presenting six-feet of space.
But stanchions are also a solid choice for directing traffic. For example, creating two separate areas for two different directions. We’ll get more into that in the strategies section below.
Retractable belt stanchions are a step up from floor stickers, and steel barricades are a step up from retractable belt stanchions.
These are the quintessential crowd control products, utilized by some of the country’s biggest events for one simple reason: they work.
Steel bike rack barricades keep people on one side of a designated area better than stanchions. With custom barricade covers, they can also encourage keeping six feet apart better than any amount of floor stickers.
For the highest levels of health and safety, barricades are the way to go.
Social Distancing Strategies
Much like the equipment itself, certain social distancing strategies will be more feasible for some municipalities over others.
In fact, for particularly high traffic areas like New York City and Chicago, social distancing measures may actually bring about the opposite effect. If people are funneled through a tight area, it can lead to backups that will have people on top of each other.
In those cases, personal sanitation and safety measures encouraged through signage will be more effective.
But for cities with less utilized public transit, such as DC, San Francisco, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles, most of these strategies can go a long way in tandem with the right equipment.
Exit and Enter Only Turnstiles and Gates
A row of six turnstiles will normally be both entrance and exit directional. But to minimize people crossing paths, consider making half enter and half exit. And depending on the time of day and the station, you might want to make more for entering than exiting (or vice versa).
Another potential strategy is to close every other turnstile. This can prevent two people from entering or exiting directly next to each other.
Floor stickers can also be used at turnstiles and gates so people at least know where six feet of space is without needing to gauge it themselves. The less guesswork, the more likely people are to follow along.
Exit and Enter Areas at Train and Bus Doors
This one is where you’d need to get particularly creative. At stations where the train stops in the exact same place every time, you could create red lines for where people wait and green areas for exiting passengers.
But that’s not going to happen in any public transit system in America that we’re aware of. So another idea is to create exit areas using steel barricades along the tracks. Waiting passengers can stand behind the barrier as people exit, then enter from left to right.
That means the train will need to be stationed a few minutes longer, but it could make a big enough difference for it to be worth the minor delays.
Again, this is more something to consider than anything specific to your train and bus stations. But hopefully those examples helped.
Hand Sanitizing Stations
Outdoor parks and farmers markets are utilizing extra hand sanitizing stations en masse. These can be simple hand sanitizer dispensers or full washing stations that include soap and water.
We hope to sell those in the near future. But for now, there are a good number of quality brands out there that allow you to set up these stations anywhere and both outside and in. We will update this article once we add sanitizing stations to our store.
For high-traffic areas, you may be well served by utilizing floor stickers to ensure those waiting to wash their hands keep six feet apart. Barricading off sanitization areas can also keep people separated while they do their part to meet CDC guidelines.
Outdoor Bus Stop Barricades
When a lot of people are waiting at the same bus stop, there’s little you can do to keep all of them six feet apart.
You may be able to have floor stickers that go all the way down the sidewalk. But in some cases, that could mean stickers stretch from one stop to the next all across the city, which is nowhere near feasible.
So, the next best thing is maintaining some sort of separation between passersby and those waiting to board. Steel bike rack barricades are an effective way to delineate those at the bus stop and those passing by, giving people the room to maintain social distancing the best they can.
Partner with a Crowd Management Expert
Again, this article is meant as general guidance to help you determine the best approach. For social distancing equipment for public transit specific to your system, reach out to a Sonco expert today.
We’re here to help you find the right products the first time while staying within budget. Our goal is to make your job easier while increasing the safety and productivity of your operations.