COVID made many of us avoid public transport – what will it take to get us back on the bus?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • A global survey by transit app Moovit asked people how COVID-19 has affected their use of public transport.
  • It also asked what would encourage them to use public transit more often during the pandemic.
  • More than half of Americans are using public transit less or not at all.
  • Many people now want data on how crowded services are, as well as disinfected vehicles, stations and stops.

Up to one-third of people in some cities have stopped using public transport because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether they’ll ever get back on board is impossible to predict, but according to research into the travel habits of people in 104 cities across 28 countries, lockdowns, the rise of remote working, and stay-home orders have all meant a reduction in the volume of people commuting.

In the Greek city of Thessaloniki, 34.3% of people no longer use public transport because of the pandemic. Additionally, 45% said their use of public transport has reduced. That’s one of the findings in the Global Public Transport Report 2020, compiled by the transit app and data business Moovit.

Across the US, around half of all commuters told Moovit they are using public transit services less frequently as a consequence of the pandemic. By comparison, about 49% of people in Spain said their use of public transport has remained the same, or even increased, despite the pandemic.

A graph showing the impact of COVID-19 on public transport usage
Get on the bus? No thanks, say half of Americans. Image: Moovit 2020 Global Public Transport Report

The sound of the crowd

Asked what would make them more likely to use public transport again, commuters in Thessaloniki cited a number of concerns. The top issue, cited by almost 70% of respondents there, was the desire for more buses on the road to lessen the chances of vehicles being uncomfortably full. Not far behind, 61.5% said they want vehicles, stations and stops to be disinfected.

“We’re living in a time where data is more important than ever before,” Yovav Meydad, Moovit’s chief growth and marketing officer, says of the report. “Especially in the public transportation industry, big data can help cities and transit agencies gain insights into what riders need in order to increase mass transit use.”

Other factors that might help people feel more confident about using public transit again include access to data regarding how full services are and whether there are areas on trains that are less crowded, Moovit says. In Singapore, for example, almost 43% want to know how crowded a public transportation vehicle is before they get on board.

The survey also found an appetite for mobile payments. In the US, for example, 46% of travellers expressed an interest.

Work is already under way around the world to find different ways of reassuring passengers and containing the spread of the virus. In South Korea, smart bus stops check people’s temperatures, only allowing them on the bus if they register 37.5ºC or below.

Get on the bus

Access to safe and secure public transportation networks is of great significance to urban centres. They allow people to move around efficiently without recourse to private vehicles, helping to keep carbon emissions under control.

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) outlines three key ways in which public transit networks can reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

• Providing a low-emissions alternative to driving.

• Facilitating compact land use, reducing the need to travel long distances.

• Minimizing the carbon footprint of transit operations and construction.

Car journeys make up around 47% of a typical two-car American family’s carbon footprint, the FTA says. As such it is the single largest source of domestic emissions. If one of those car-owning people switched to public transport for a daily commute of 16km each way, they could achieve the equivalent of an 8.1% reduction in the household’s annual carbon footprint.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

Greater EU Civil Protection capacity needed in light of lessons from COVID-19

The world’s impact in a small Brazilian town and the increased demand for mental health

What will education look like in 20 years? Here are 4 scenarios

High level political talks didn’t break the stalemate in Ukraine

EU officially launches its first naval mission against migrant smugglers

Half the world’s refugee children not in school, UN agency finds

What does Tsipras have to offer to the rest of Europe? Is it worth an early advance of €10 billion? Berlin sturdily denies it

Spread Her Wings: Let Her Fly

This is the environmental catastrophe you’ve probably never heard of

Protecting farmers and quality products: vote on EU farm policy reform plans

Donors must do more to align development finance with climate goals

Can the Notre-Dame fire freeze the ‘Yellow Vests’ uprising?

What we need is more (and better) multilateralism, not less

ICC Appeals Chamber acquits former Congolese Vice President Bemba from war crimes charges

Venezuelan exodus to Ecuador reaches record levels: UN refugee agency steps up aid

Here’s how innovation could help car companies hit by COVID-19

Adriatic Sea: MEPs adopt multiannual plan for fisheries

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Latin America, in association with The European Sting

How the Fourth Industrial Revolution can help us beat COVID-19

Dutch voters reject EU-Ukraine partnership and open a new pandora’s box for the EU

How we can embrace the electrical vehicle transition by adopting smart charging

Trade in fake Italian goods costs economy billions of euros

No hard drivers in sight to remodel the stagnating affairs of the EU

Charges against Baha’i in Yemen must be dropped: UN experts urge release of detainees

Conditions deteriorating alarmingly in Yemen, warns senior UN official

Six months after the Beirut port explosion: reflections from a first responder

5 things you need to know about your microbiome

GREXIT final wrap-up: nobody believed Aesop’s boy who cried wolf so many times

EU Parliament raises burning issues over the FTA with the US

UN Security Council hails ‘courage’ of Afghan voters

TTIP is not dead as of yet, the 15th round of negotiations in New York shouts

The Tears of lovely Memories

Parliament elects the von der Leyen Commission

Boosting the EU’s Green Recovery: EU invests over €2 billion in 140 key transport projects to jump-start the economy

The Great Reset needs great leaders to help the most vulnerable

How global tech can drive local healthcare innovation in China

EU elections 2019: Rise of nationalist trends and populism in Europe challenges the EU edifice

MEPs back measures to reconcile career and private life

Fostering global citizenship in medical students through exchanges

Brazilian officer a ‘stellar example’ of why more women are needed in UN peacekeeping

Dreaming of China

Code of Practice on Disinformation one year on: online platforms submit self-assessment reports

South Asia can become an innovation hub. Here’s how

First calls under Horizon Europe to be launched by the European Research Council

European Commission calls on national political parties to join efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Europe

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

How Mobile Technology is Changing the Healthcare System

SRHR the indispensable ally in ending HIV

Mental health in the pandemic: how to stay emotionally stable?

Suicide Prevention: Using Graduation as a Transformative Tool

As the inventor of copy and paste dies, here are other computing innovations we take for granted

Give a chance to the brothers of Ailan: reception of refugees in Greece

Rare diseases are more common than you might think

Coronavirus: rescEU medical stockpile expands in four Member States

Finland has giant supermarkets that only stock second-hand goods

Working Muslim women are a trillion-dollar market

Why does the whole world want Britain to stay in the EU?

New rules make household appliances more sustainable

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s