We investigate the connection between the choice of transportation mode used by commuters and the probability of COVID-19 transmission. This interplay might influence the choice of transportation means for years to come. We present data on commuting, socioeconomic factors, and COVID-19 disease incidence for several US metropolitan areas. The data highlights important connections between population density and mobility, public transportation use, race, and increased likelihood of transmission. We use a transportation model to highlight the effect of uncertainty about transmission on the commuters’ choice of transportation means. Using multiple estimation techniques, we found strong evidence that public transit ridership in several US metro areas has been considerably impacted by COVID-19 and by the policy responses to the pandemic. Concerns about disease transmission had a negative effect on ridership, which is over and above the adverse effect from the observed reduction in employment. The COVID-19 effect is likely to reduce the demand for public transport in favor of lower density alternatives. This change relative to the status quo will have implications for fuel use, congestion, accident frequency, and air quality. More vulnerable communities might be disproportionally affected as a result. We point to the need for additional studies to further quantify these effects and to assist policy in planning for the post-COVID-19 transportation future.
Read the full article in Scientific Reports.