University of Vermont Transportation Research Center

Covid-19 pandemic impacts on essential transit riders: Findings from a U.S. Survey

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The Covid-19 pandemic has decimated public transit service across the United States and caused significant decreases in ridership. Little is known about the reasons for unevenness in pandemic- era mode shifts and the impacts of pandemic-related transit reductions on riders’ day-to-day lives. Using a national survey of U.S. transit riders (n = 500) conducted in fall 2020, this study ex- amines changes in transit use since the pandemic began, the reasons for transit reductions, and the effects of reduced transit use and transit service on transit riders’ ability to meet their travel needs. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing transportation burdens for those who have limited mobility options, those facing socioeconomic challenges, Hispanic or Latinx riders, and female, non-binary or genderqueer people. We close with recommendations for strengthening transit service for these groups in the long term as we recover from the pandemic.