The COVID 19 pandemic has shattered the entire world, in all terms. The environment is down, the economy is crashing and the life of people is disrupted beyond immediate repair. We cannot comprehend something that we are not used to or have not experienced ever in life. In this case, even our immediate earlier generations have not experienced such a thing in their lifetime. Significant and long-lasting repercussions will be felt across our society and industry, many of which are sure to influence the way we approach the design and concept of moving around in our cities.

Arrival launches electric bus with features to help people travel safely following pandemic - Sheet1

Our daily activities are affected enormously, ranging from household chores to our daily commute. Visiting the market, or any public space in the presence of a crowd, and a public transportation commute are equally risky and dangerous activities in today’s times. Especially in Indian cities, due to the population spread, it is practically impossible to maintain the necessary social distance as a safety measure.

Apart from the behavioral change, our public transportation medium needs a substantial improvement on hygiene grounds for a better public interface and experience. Somehow we have been royally ignorant and successful failures at making public transport a good experience to the daily commuters. Hence the rise in use of private vehicles and hence the traffic issues and hence all of the urban design and planning concepts going for a toss.

Arrival launches electric bus with features to help people travel safely following pandemic - Sheet2

1. Arrival as an important player

Arrival, a UK based start-up has taken initiative to develop solutions for cities that help them meet sustainability targets and give their citizens a better public transportation experience. This transportation ecosystem includes buses, vans, carpooling mechanisms, developing micro-factories for uniform production, and a digital market adhering to integrated transportation. They are the first amongst the few to initiate net-zero emissions in the public transport domain for a pollution-free environment in cities.

Arrival Bus offers a human-centered and smart design to revitalize public transportation and make it a better and viable experience for cities. These electric buses are not only zero-emission proof, but also are trying to remove the reliance on government subsidies for this public infrastructure.

Arrival has designed its electric buses in a way, keeping in mind the assembly of these to be uniform across all cities under its distribution list. Rather than depending on a plethora of vehicle supply chains in different parts of the world, Arrival has come up with a unique concept of localized micro-factories, where the components will be assembled close to where the vehicles are required, thus making this a more sustainable decision. Arrival has invented a unique assembly technology to produce all the vehicles in its portfolio from micro-factories, deployable worldwide to serve local communities, pay local taxes, and support retention of local talent.

The Arrival Bus is an important element of this ecosystem, with improved public transportation experience and strong economic benefits.

2. Features of the bus

Arrival has launched a zero-emission bus that will transform the public transport industry at a time when it is facing its biggest challenges. The recent pandemic has made public transportation in cities an important aspect of urban planning to communities around the world, and needs to be acknowledged, and addressed for a better and safer environment. At the same time, it has to be visually appealing, sustainable, affordable, and accessible to all.

Arrival’s new electric bus has been designed keeping mind the users at priority and their comfort at best. At first glance, it is a regular rectangular box on wheels, like any other public transport bus. There are a lot of screens inside the bus, to display relevant information like boarding and alighting point, routes, upcoming stops, etc. which make life easy for the passengers.

A display panel behind the driver seat has the entire bus route map and more information related to the same. a landscape interactive panel sits right beside the driver’s seat, for better user interface/experience like tap-to-pay sensors, etc. the screens provide the passengers with better realtime information for their convenience. This information is a part of the bus, as well as off of it; on the bus stops, in the form of a mobile app, etc. The realtime information system has not been on any of the current buses and that makes Arrival stand out.

This realtime information not only helps the passengers but also the fleet management standpoint, to deploy the necessary inventory of buses for increased efficiency. It thus becomes relatively easier to fulfill the demand based on data that we’re able to pull from the buses.

“A lot of other bus manufacturers are just making buses, they are not making systems”        – Kwame Nyanning, Chief of Experience, Arrival

With all the information ready at disposal and visible all the time, the passengers do not need a physically present person for their service. This well supports the precautions to be taken as safety measures, during the current pandemic.

3. Design aspects

  • Flexible seating configurations (reconfigurable seating) to allow control of passenger capacity to conform to social distancing norms, and to alternatively increase it in normal times.
  • Skylight across the length of the bus roof for adequate penetration of natural light to keep the interiors hygienic, well lit, and hence less suffocating than the other buses.
  • ‘Calming soundscape’ music being played throughout the cabin for better traveling experience to the passengers.
  • Cantilever seating and smooth interior surfaces with no seams between the wall and floor for easier cleaning of the vehicle.
  • Plexiglass dividers between passengers and no-touch stop requests via a smartphone app.
  • Maximum capacity – 125 persons
  • The modular construction of the body allows for the extension of the chassis in multiples of 1.5 m, with the minimum size being 10.5 and a maximum of 15 m.

4. Electrical charging

The most important part of the Arrival bus system is its all-electric power platform. It has been designed as a module to be able to scale up or down as per the needs and requirements, thus making this platform a sustainable step taken by Arrival.

Conclusion

Public transport needs to be appealing, attractive, clean, affordable, and accessible to all, only then it sells as an efficient mode of transport. Else no sensible person will give up the comfort of their vehicle to opt for a public transport mode for the daily commute.

Arrival has taken up that point and made it work conceptually. Even though no Arrival model is on the road for use, their description of this new electric bus sounds way into the future of good public transportation.

Arrival launches electric bus with features to help people travel safely following pandemic - Sheet3
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Arrival launches electric bus with features to help people travel safely following pandemic - Sheet4
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Amit Devale
Author

An architect from Bombay, after graduation, he further studied Sustainable Architecture. Since then, he has been associated with a research organisation, working on urban development policies of Mumbai, Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI). Here, he has worked on projects that have strengthened his knowledge about the city. He is inclined towards researching public transportation alternatives, policies and infrastructure for pedestrians in cities, affordable housing, urban recreational spaces and non-conventional construction techniques.

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