Guardians of Mobility: from the front lines of Santiago, Chile

There are many “unsung heroes” in times of crisis, and we recognise that our public transport professionals are some of them. Our ‘Guardians of Mobility’, are an integral part of the front liners keeping essential services available throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the course of these next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from our own community on what’s being done to keep public transport operations running around the world, and to shed a little light on our sector’s contribution to fighting this pandemic.

Today, we hear from Metro de Santiago and Redbus Urbano sharing experiences from Santiago, Chile.

Redbus Urbano (part of Transdev Group)

As the coronavirus continues to spread in Latin America, public transport operators in Santiago, Chile, are faced with their second big crisis in less than a six month period. After the social crisis in October 2019, front line staff must redouble their efforts to tackle a major health crisis.

Redbus Urbano is part of Transdev Group, one of the most prestigious brands in the passenger transport sector worldwide. In Santiago, they operate Unit 6 of the RED system, with lines mostly concentrated in the north of the capital city.

Heeding the warnings and experiences of Transdev Group in other countries where the virus arrived earlier, Redbus Urbano sprang into action to take the necessary precautions such as rigorous disinfection of all infrastructure, will also carrying out several training and communication campaigns to raise awareness about the coronavirus, contagion mechanisms and ways to prevent it.

“While we continue to follow the recommendations of the health authorities and the experience of Transdev operators in other countries, we hope to face this pandemic as prepared as possible”, said Hernán Berrios, CEO of Redbus Urbano. “We know that the most critical aspects of this crisis are still to come.”

We know that the most critical aspects of this crisis are still to come

Front line staff at Redbus Urbano were furthermore given instructions on how to enter their homes when they return from a shift, and the company ensured the successful delivery of protective materials to all drivers and field personnel. The safety and commitment of their staff is of utmost importance.

“Our work keeps people and the city connected. We are people at the service of people, and we are motivated to know that we are a direct, real and concrete contribution to beating this pandemic”, said Berrios.

The team at Redbus Urbano has reportedly reacted positively, with renewed enthusiasm and dedication to their work to keep the city moving. “Our team demonstrates the social commitment that each of us has for public service, and the desire to ‘serve’ the community at a crucial moment in history”, said Berrios.

Our team demonstrates the social commitment that each of us has for public service

Metro de Santiago

While similar measures have been taken by neighbouring metro operator to prevent the spread of the coronaviurs, Metro de Santiago has further been recognised for their use of quaternary harmonium - an antiviral compound mostly used in hospital facilities – to disinfect all contact surfaces of trains and stations such as handrails, handles, turnstiles, card reloading totems, elevator buttons and ATMs.

Edgardo Navarro, Inspector of Contract Technician in the Cleaning Area, shares his experience from the front lines: “many people have approached me, asking how we are sanitising trains and what products we use”, he says. “People are much calmer when we explain the strength of the product we’re using and the strict process we follow to make sure the disinfection is done well. They even tell us that the trains smell different, in a way that makes them feel more at ease.”

People are much calmer when we explain the strength of the product we’re using and the strict process we follow 

As metro passengers in Santiago can rest assured that the operator is taking control of the situation as much as possible in this context, it takes dedicated staff like Navarro to make this level of comfort possible.

“It is super important what we are doing for these people”, said Navarro. “Especially for healthcare workers who have to go out and get to work, and for all those who are fundamental in facing this pandemic: we must do it for them.”

Thank you to our Guardians of Mobility in Santiago for their brilliant motivation and for putting passengers at ease!


Missed our story from Baku Transport Agency? Catch up here!

UITP is doing its part to support the public transport sector in this unprecedented time. Please see our dedicated webpage on all of our activities surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic for more information on what's available.