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Asian Cities Using Technology to Keep Public Transport Running During the Pandemic

Public transport in cities is highly vulnerable to disease outbreaks such as the global coronavirus pandemic. However, public transport is the lifeline of movement through cities, so governments are keen to keep services running and offer citizens a safe way to travel.

Many Asian cities such as Seoul in Korea and Delhi in India have introduced mobile apps, temperature-check kiosks and smart bus shelters to make public transit safer as offices and businesses open after lockdowns.

Even with distancing, hygiene and safety measures in place, many people are still expected to avoid public transport. But technology is necessary to ensure the public transport system remains a safe environment for those who need to travel throughout the city.

Although many citizens have stopped using public transport during this period, many cities will face more challenges when they re-open, as they will not be able to cope with the shift of daily commuters to personal vehicles which will in turn mean a huge increase in traffic in the cities.

The new innovative tech measures help ensure health and safety of the fleet of employees on the various transport systems and the citizens it serves.


Seoul’s Seongdong-gu district have rolled out 10 bus shelters powered by solar energy, and equipped with ultraviolet sterilisers and thermal imaging cameras that check temperatures.

“The Smart Shelters were introduced so that residents can experience technology in their daily lives. It is an inclusive service that everyone can benefit from,” a spokesman for Chong Won-O, mayor of Seongdong-gu


In Singapore, there are touch-free kiosks with thermal sensors at busy bus stops and train stations allowing passengers to check their temperature before boarding.

The kiosks will be rolled out in 70 locations in the city, according to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, which is involved in the project.

While temperature screening at public transit points is not mandatory, the kiosks encourage the public to remain vigilant by monitoring their temperature before commuting.


In China and in Delhi, commuters must show that they are symptom-free with a mobile health app before boarding the subway, flights and to enter some offices.


Across China, health control checkpoints are being used at train and metro stations as well as in many public and private buildings. This enables temperature checks and the tracing of the movement of people, in case of contact with a suspected COVID-19 carrier. In Shanghai, ultraviolet light is being used to disinfect buses.

In many taxis, buses and metro carriages, passengers are encouraged to scan a QR code to register their name and contact number, to help with contact tracing.

Hong Kong rail operator MTR is even using a fleet of cleaning robots to disinfect trains and stations.

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