At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we talked of days and weeks. These became months, and now we think in terms of years. One thing is for sure, while we don’t know when the world will emerge from this emergency when it does things won’t look the same as they did before — if nothing else, so much time will have passed. 

Crises often present us with opportunities, and the design world is currently at the forefront of rethinking much of everyday life. This includes how we travel, with public transport demand plummeting since the lockdowns began.

A key factor in recovery is rebuilding confidence in the safety of networks, which may mean radically changing vehicle design to limit contact and increase distancing between passengers. Or at least that’s what a group of innovators think from North Western University’s Segal Design Institute, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Their contactless ‘Futurebus’ uses a game-changing layout, anti-microbial fabric and self-sanitising handles, potentially answering many of the questions currently facing this sector. 

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