The total number of passenger journeys made on public transport in Europe each year is close to 60 billion with the US seeing 10.7 billion journeys on public transport in 2013 alone. The world’s average commuting time one way is 40 minutes with some cities soaring much higher – Villavicencio, Columbia topped the average commute with an incredible 192 minutes. Facts like these are endless but the point is these numbers are not foreseen to slow down any time soon. As the world’s public transport industry grows and better connects us between towns, cities and even countries, an increasing number of people are choosing alternative modes of transport to driving, and what’s more, they are traveling further and for longer.
For many years, employee health has been a contentious issue. There has been much research around the health of workers and how businesses can better support their staff to ensure they are both mentally and physically healthy and happy in their jobs. After all, it is said that we now spend around 80%-90% of our time indoors so creating a pleasant, safe and enjoyable working environment is key. But what about the health of the passenger? With commute times increasing and overcrowding issues becoming more and more present in the public transport industry, how can transport operators enhance the health and well-being of their passengers? A commuter starts and ends their working day with their journey to and from work, so how can the environment they are traveling in set them up for a positive and productive day or help them relax after a busy and potentially stressful day at the office?
A couple of weeks ago we wrote about the impact of colour psychology on passengers and how this could affect a commuter’s journey and overall customer satisfaction. Colour can enhance the mood, focus, relaxation or productivity of passengers – read more here about which colours create each of these effects. But there are many other factors that can also impact on passenger health. At Forbo Flooring Systems, we have been committed to creating better environments for many years, manufacturing sustainable floor coverings that are good for people and good for the environment.As a part of this, we launched our initiative ‘Committed to the Health of One’ (CHO) in 2015. CHO is a symbol of our dedication to creating floor coverings that contribute to the health, safety, hygiene and well-being of people, and this doesn’t stop at transport.
We believe that a healthy environment starts with the floor. In a recent interview with Andreas Vogler, he described flooring to be a pillar in transport interior design:
“Flooring has an immediate impact on whether a space feels comfortable or not. It is the impact on acoustics, walking, illumination and hygienic impression which makes that. A good floor covering should make you feel like you could sit down on it like in your living room or an Italian Piazza. The quality of the flooring has an immediate impact on the quality of the space.”
We couldn’t have said this better ourselves. So when thinking about the health of passengers, start with the floor. Is it safe, hygienic, visually appealing? Is it comfortable, is it quiet? All of these elements will shape a passenger’s journey experience. Within our CHO initiative, we split ‘health’ into three pillars; Safety, Hygiene and Well-Being and each of our floor coverings have various elements that contribute to each area.
The floor is paramount in the safety of passengers. Floor coverings that are slip resistant and fire retardant are incredibly important for the public transport industry. Fire certification is understandably a legal requirement but trips and falls can be common on busy public transport services so slip resistance is a key factor. In addition, floor coverings that are manufactured without dangerous materials and ingredients such as toxins and phthalates are just as important. If a floor covering includes such ingredients, the quality of the air can diminish, affecting the health of passengers.
With many people boarding public transport services, germs and illnesses like the common cold can spread quite easily. Floors on public transport services like trains, buses or trams are exposed to a huge amount of dirt and moisture walked in from the outside, not to mention the spillages from coffee drinking commuters. When not maintained sufficiently, floors can create quite an unpleasant environment both from a hygiene and a visual point of view. Floor coverings that inhibit bacteria and retain dirt until cleaned can combat this and maintain a hygienic environment for passengers.
There are many ways a floor covering can impact the well-being of passengers. Comfort, acoustics, light reflection value, colour and design are all part of this. Floor coverings with a good underfoot comfort and noise reduction rating can create a more calming environment for passengers to relax or focus on work in. A good light reflection value can enhance natural light, making passengers feel brighter, more productive and generally happier. Warmth is also a large element of passenger well-being. Textile floors can create warmth for passengers on their journey – particularly important in the winter months when they’ve been waiting outside on the platform/bus stop in the cold. Colour and design are probably two of the largest elements of passenger well-being, both can determine the look and feel of the passenger vehicle, directly impacting on the atmosphere and passenger mood. As passengers are spending more and more time commuting, they are looking for public transport to be an extension of their home or office, so colour and design are a huge part of this and flooring is a key surface area to portray the desired look and feel.
We believe the health of people is vital in an increasingly built-up and urbanized world, whether this be the student, the worker, the holidaymaker or indeed, the passenger. Transport operators can play a key role in enhancing the mental and physical health of passengers, setting them up for a better day. The cherry on top is the increase of customer satisfaction levels, more positive journey experiences and from this, the increased usage of public transport – a plus for our environment!
To find out more about our ‘Committed to the Health of One’ initiative and how our floor coverings can contribute to the health of people, click here.