This Super-futuristic Driverless Tram Design From Hong Kong May Be Perfect for Post-COVID-19 Transport

A rendering of The Island in Hong Kong.

Getting back on public transportation in a post-COVID-19 world can be a nerve-wracking thought, but new design concepts out of Hong Kong are looking to the future with safe and innovative solutions that look as cool as they are functional.

A new tram concept, called the Island, from designers based in the city, would be completely driverless, featuring a touchless entry and exit as well as circular benches with seating designed to face outwards to minimize contact between passengers, the Ponti Design Studio shared with Travel + Leisure.

The double-decker tram idea is a perfect fix to facilitate social distancing on board with sleek lines creating a spacious interior where people can spread out. And the curved windows on all sides ensure the views of the busy city — already known for its efficient public transportation system — will be spectacular day or night.

A rendering of The Island in Hong Kong.

“Usually, good design comes from limitations. So in a way, this period has been really good for design — not necessarily for business, but certainly for the imagination,” Andrea Ponti, the founder of Ponti Design Studio, told CNN earlier this month. “During and after the pandemic, I think designers will propose many new, different ways to use public spaces and interact with the environment."

It has not yet been determined where the tram would travel between.

“Hong Kongers are dedicated to keeping the city and its people safe from COVID-19, so innovative local designers and architects have shared some creative solutions, illustrating what socially-distanced and responsible public transit could look like in a post-pandemic Hong Kong,”  Bill Flora, the director for the USA of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, told T+L.

Additionally, the city is considering a new ferry concept, the OseaD1, designed to be electric and move passengers between Hong Kong island, the M+ museum of visual culture, and the West Kowloon Cultural District, according to the Michael Young Studio. The small boat can even land itself into a secure dock with its hydraulic control and stabilizing system.

"I think the boats in Hong Kong are beautiful, but they can be a little bit medieval," Young told CNN. "I wanted to create a boat design that would appeal to a new generation, something that feels fresh and streamlined."

The tram and ferry aren’t the only innovative design concepts that have emerged in the era of COVID-19. Several companies have taken a crack at redesigning airplane seats with creative solutions to make distancing on planes easier, utilizing everything from middle seat dividers to a transparent shield between seats and even a double-decker design that would create lie-flat seats in economy.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram @alisonwrites.

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