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A Double-Decker Driverless Tram Could Be the Future of Public Transit in Hong Kong

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As the world seeks to get back to normal, innovators across industries are looking for unique solutions to keep people safe in the future. Designers have predicted changes like more touchless technology and the use of antimicrobial materials. Now, another studio is attempting to tackle public transportation in one of the world's busiest cities.

Related: What Does the Future of Luxury Travel Look Like in a Post-Coronavirus World?

Ponti Design Studio, founded by Italian-born and Hong Kong-based designer Andrea Ponti, released a concept for an electric driverless double-decker tram with spacious interiors to promote social distancing using public transportation. Called Island, the design allows for more interior space since there is no need for a driver or engine. Passengers would sit in a radial pattern facing outwards on "islands" situated in the middle of the tram. This prevents people from breathing on one another. Wooden benches and handrails on the perimeter allow other passengers to look out the window, again avoid breathing on one another.

"This is especially important in the densely populated city of Hong Kong, where social distancing is hard to achieve," said Ponti.

Related: This Maze-Like Public Park in Vienna Was Designed With Social Distancing in Mind

The studio designed complimentary tram stops as well that are open on both sides to provide better movement for passengers and airflow. Payment for a tram ride would occur via the contactless Hong Kong Octopus card system before boarding. This, too, creates more interior room as there's no payment station taking up room on board.

"Island represents the forward-thinking spirit of Hong Kong, and introduces a new concept of public transport that overcomes the practice of social distancing," said Ponti. "The concept of social distancing, which limits people's freedom to move and interact, became the design challenge and focal point for the new concept. We shouldn't be dividing and separating but instead rethinking public spaces with a seamless, integrated, and effective design approach."


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