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 Milestones

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

During the coronavirus pandemic, we must fight for LGBTQ rights more than ever

Final preparations for DCX and IFRA Expo 2019, in association with The European Sting

How two colossal Assyrian icons were recreated using digital tech

Libya: EU efforts should focus on protecting migrants, MEPs say

Difficulties of vaccination against COVID-19

EU takes again positive action on migration crisis while Turkey asks for dear favors in exchange for cooperation

Project Manager – 2024

Social media and the lack of information for blood donation

Commission welcomes provisional agreement on the European Climate Law

The EU to bear the cost of eventual sanctions against Russia

Saudi woman seeking asylum in Thailand ‘now in a secure place’ says UNHCR

A 550 km-long mass of rotting seaweed is heading for Mexico’s pristine beaches

Lack of investment and ambition means Youth Guarantee not reaching potential

This is the life of a refugee: the constant destruction and construction of dreams every day

This is where people live the longest in the EU

Nicaragua ‘crisis’ still cause for concern amid murder, torture allegations: Bachelet

This is our chance to completely redefine the meaning of work

European Green Deal: Commission presents actions to boost organic production

Green Deal: measures to step up the fight against global deforestation

These are the countries where most adults still don’t have a smartphone

It’s just electronic cigarette, don’t worry?

Historian Niall Ferguson on what the pandemic means for the global economy, geopolitics – and parties

Coronavirus response: Commission welcomes agreement on crucial VAT relief for vaccines and testing kits

Portuguese Presidency outlines priorities to EP committees

Romanian Presidency priorities discussed in committees

EU is now giving Google new monopolies to the detriment of European citizens and Internet companies

Mexico: UN chief saddened by pipeline blast in which dozens were killed

The 28 EU leaders show contempt for the European Elections results

Thursday’s Daily Brief: ambulance attack in Libya, #GlobalGoals defenders, human rights in Cambodia, Swine Fever

Pay Transparency: Commission proposes measures to ensure equal pay for equal work

This is how drones and other ‘tradetech’ are transforming international trade

Make no mistake: the purpose of business is to serve society

These are the top countries for travel and tourism in 2019

Rare Disease Day: a new EU platform to support better diagnosis and treatment

Spanish and Polish voters are crying out for an imminent European change while US urge now Germany to change route

EU co-ordinating the urgent delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Moldova

Why global collaboration is needed to protect against a new generation of cyber threats

Does upgrading our minds mean losing the spark of genius?

This Brooklyn farm company is training a new generation of urban farmers

Countries are piling on record amounts of debt amid COVID-19. Here’s what that means

A brief history of cryptography and why it matters

Yemen: €95 million in EU humanitarian aid for people threatened by conflict and famine

Parliament: No consent to EU budget until €11.2 billion unpaid bills are settled

Chinese tech investors are turning towards MENA. Here’s why

Can Obama attract Iran close to the US sphere of influence?

How our Europe will regain its strength: op-ed by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

From underestimation to valorization: how mobile technology is transforming global health

The Khashoggi affair: A global complot staged behind closed doors

Safe spaces offer security and dignity for youth, and help make the world ‘better for all’: Guterres

Smart city experts should be looking to emerging markets. Here’s why

Brazil identifies a clear pathway for aligning its transfer pricing framework with the OECD standard

The public health system in Brazil as a promoter of sexual and reproductive health and rights: how does it help in the fight against HIV/AIDS?

Mountains matter, especially if you’re young, UN declares

At G20 Summit OECD’s Gurría says collective action vital to tackle global challenges

Top UN court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya from genocide

How fungi could save the world

Why South Africa is on a path of economic renewal

Rule of Law: Commission launches infringement procedure to protect the independence of the Polish Supreme Court

Supply chains are on the cusp of a data-fed revolution. Here’s how businesses can succeed.

Global warming: our responsibility

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