In contrast to other cities worldwide, the pandemic has not decimated bus ridership in Hanoi. Notably, the Vietnamese capital has mostly relied on the use of face masks and hand sanitizer during travel, instead of requiring physical distancing on buses. This study examines public bus passengers’ levels of compliance with Covid-19 safety measures, and the factors that affect compliance. Face-to-face surveys were administered between 7 September and 3 October 2020, right after the end of the third wave of Covid-19 in Hanoi on 51 bus routes. Exploratory Factor Analysis was carried out to extract factors from attitudinal statements. The extracted factors, passengers’ socio-demographic traits, and their bus use patterns were modelled to determine which variables lead to more compliance with Covid-19 safety measures. We found that 100% of passengers wore face masks (which were mandated), albeit 11% did so incorrectly, while only 28% of passengers used the hand sanitizer provided by bus operators (which was recommended but not required). In addition, 38% of passengers carried their own bottles of hand sanitizer while travelling, despite a relatively low risk of contracting the virus. Women, older passengers, and urbanites were less likely to sanitise their hands. Frequent bus travellers behaved like the population at large with regard to protective measures against Covid-19. Hanoi’s overall measures – full use of face masks and partial use of hand sanitizer – were sufficient to contain three relatively minor Covid-19 waves while still maintaining regular bus operations most of the time. If other cities were able to reach these levels of compliance, most would be in much better position vis-à-vis public transport use during the pandemic (or an epidemic). Our findings suggest that mandates work much better than awareness raising campaigns, although the latter have a role to play.
Title: Covid-19 need not spell the death of public transport: Learning from Hanoi’s safety measures
Authors: Minh Hieu Nguyen and Dorina Pojani
Publication: Journal of Transport & Health