With the coronavirus being shown to spread more rapidly in indoor spaces, a London-based company is offering commuters an alternative way to get to work: double-decker open-topped buses.
London has 233 roof-less tourist buses, but with tourism at a standstill, on-demand bus company Snap wants to redeploy these double-deckers to help people get to work safely. The service is still in development. Snap is currently going through a crowdsourcing process, taking details of people interested in the service to calculate which routes might have the highest demand. Initial test journeys ran this week following the route of the London Underground’s Victoria Line, which runs across central London from northeast to southwest.
Prices are expected to run at the same cost as an average tube journey — £3.30 ($4.19) — with multiple pick-ups and drop off points for passengers but far fewer stops than the average bus. Snap estimates that it can run a viable service at that cost with passengers filling just a quarter of a bus’s usual capacity, a level that would make it possible for everyone to sit on the upper deck and maintain some distance from each other.
The idea might help London with a current conundrum. Some people now working from home are thinking about the possibility of returning to their workplaces, but many are still anxious that if public transit services return to anything like pre-pandemic ridership levels, they risk becoming sites of widespread coronavirus infection. With open-topped buses, commuters could get to work without fear of infection. Plus, it could provide riders with a scenic, more enjoyable route to their jobs—as long as it doesn’t start raining.