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Covid-19- Public transport disruptions and behaviour change

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This rapid evidence review looks at the impact on public transportation of past crises and disruption.

The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted transport and changed travel behaviours. The shift to working from home as well as concerns about spreading the virus mean that public transport ridership has fallen.

This rapid evidence review provides a concise summary of relevant evidence that tells us what happened in the past and any lessons this holds for policy.

This evidence may help those working in cities with a heavy reliance on public transport, or those managing public transport, to understand the medium- to long-term impact of some of these events on ridership.

It suggests the following things to consider:

  • Disruptions do lead some people to find new ways to get to work. It is an opportunity to encourage less-polluting methods of travel, but these changes may not be permanent unless they can be made faster or cheaper.
  • Public transport ridership usually rebounds substantially in the medium term after a significant disruption, even when fear plays a role in the short term.
  • Surveys and secondary data sources (e.g. on mobility trends) may be useful in informing the policy response.
  • It may also helpful to think about measures to build confidence and trust in public transport.


Covid-19 Public transport disruptions and behaviour change