New Study Suggests Public Transportation is in Trouble

Prior to the pandemic, transit was already facing a decline in ridership. The COVID-19 crisis has forced many forms of public transportation to temporarily shut down parts of their operation as more people began teleworking or opting for other transportation methods to increase social distancing. But what about when businesses begin reopening? A recent IBM study suggests that people will likely still look to avoid crowds post-pandemic.

The study found among 14,000 respondents, 20 percent of those that regularly use public transportation such as buses or trains say they will no longer use those services post-pandemic. Further more, an additional 28 percent of respondents said that they will use those services less frequently. Ride-sharing is also predicted to take a hit. More than half of respondents who use services such as Uber and Lyft said they would opt for personal transportation options. 17 percent of all respondents said they would use personal vehicles more.

From the study press release:

One-third of respondents said that constraints on their personal finances will “greatly” influence their decision to buy a vehicle once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. More than 25 percent said that a lack of confidence in the global and U.S. economic outlook will impact their decisions to buy a vehicle – with nearly the same number of people saying they would be holding off on buying for more than 6 months. Consumers added that manufacturer incentive programs are not likely to persuade or change their thinking.

An article in CityLab suggests that there is a way back for transit. Using the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority as an example, the article discusses how jurisdictions could not just attempt to win back old crowds, but double down on ways to increase ridership. Another CityLab article suggests that ridership will slowly rebound as unemployment numbers grow and public transit gets strict with safety measures.

IBM Study: COVID-19 Is Significantly Altering U.S. Consumer Behavior and Plans Post-Crisis

CityLab: How U.S. Public Transit Can Survive Coronavirus

CityLab: Will Commuters Ever Go Back to Commuter Trains?

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