Evaluating Transit Use in the Post-Pandemic Era

This project will evaluate the reasons that public transit riders return (or do not return) to transit in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has decimated public transit use across the US. As automobile travel has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, transit ridership has remained substantially reduced. The extent to which transit riders will return to transit when the US population is largely vaccinated is unknown, with potentially significant implications for the viability and operation of public transit in the post-pandemic “normal”.  This project builds off of prior work that evaluated the results of a survey of 500 US transit users in Fall 2020 to determine how different types of transit riders (including those without access to a vehicle, low-income riders, and Latinx riders) have changed their use of transit in response to the pandemic, the reasons for changes in transit use, and the effects of reduced transit use on riders’ ability to reach essential destinations. The proposed work will use a follow-up survey to evaluate the extent to which different types of riders return to transit when the majority of the population has been vaccinated. The analysis will evaluate factors that contribute to a return to transit with an emphasis on policy-relevant insights. The results of this work will be useful for transit agencies and policy makers seeking to plan for and expand future transit use in the post-pandemic era.