In the era of the pandemic, passenger transport has become one of the industries most affected by the crisis, with losses running into millions. Although the situation is improving all the time, it is safe to say that it will be a long time before transport is back on track.
Apart from flights, buses and railroads are subject to one fundamental restriction – they can carry up to half the number of seats in a vehicle. Non-public transport has also been affected by the changes – from April 2, 2020, this restriction includes construction sites, organised commuter buses or private transport companies
The exception? The new rules do not apply to vehicles that can carry a maximum of 9 passengers including the driver. They used to be able to use the full number of seats, but that has also changed. The new regulations have also caused the state services (including the police) to be hit by a ricochet
It’s best to ask people in the industry about their reactions at the source. In an interview with Forbes, Bogdan Kurys, vice president of Sindbad, referred to the situation a few days after the introduction of the nationwide lockdown as follows: “The beginning of March was not yet dramatic. A lot changed after March 15. When the borders were closed, for the first few days we brought more people into the country than LOT did on board its planes as part of the LOT Home campaign. Later, of course, the returnees changed planes. And in the end, we also had to suspend our connections.”
As a leader in the Polish international transport market, Sindbad is well aware of the mood among the major transport players. In the first weeks of the outbreak alone, the carrier recorded practically negligible profits with staff maintenance costs of 3.5 million zlotys. Despite the subsequent resumption of operations and return to relative stability, the Polish company was undoubtedly forced to reduce staff and cut costs
The end of the pandemic and its associated crisis is not yet in sight. Although the mood of the industry has been improved by the information about available vaccines and the start of vaccinations, a lot of water will still flow in the Vistula before we return to normality.
The global situation
What about the global picture? The global economy has slowed considerably as a result of the restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Demand, consumer spending and investment have all fallen shockingly.
The impact of Covid-19 was greater than the previous global financial crisis. The International Monetary Fund now forecasts a 3% decline in global GDP. in 2020. (Up from a 2.5% decline between the fourth quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2009). All of this has negatively impacted the growth of the transportation sector in general
Who has lost the most?
Bus transport has been by far the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is worth noting that the situation of bus companies was not the best in the days before the coronavirus – as the number of people on their own four wheels increased, intercity bus services lost importance
The result of this situation is a growing transport exclusion of Poles living in smaller towns. The number of people affected by this problem may be as high as 14 million! The worst was yet to come, however, and with it the final blow to intercity transport.
Fortunately, today we can see a gradual return of passengers. The coronavirus outbreak has contributed to one thing – it has publicized a very serious problem for some Poles. If the government does not take action in bridging the transport exclusion, it could end tragically for millions of citizens.