A social equity lens on bus bridging and ride-hailing responses to unplanned subway disruptions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - subway/metro, mode - bus, mode - other, place - urban, place - north america, policy - equity, operations - capacity


Transport equity, Public transit, Transit resilience, Service disruption


During subway disruptions, commuters are often left stranded while they wait for bus bridging services. Some are able to change their mode of transport midway through their trip, often by requesting a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft if they are affordable. Many agencies use in-service buses to provide bus bridging services during subway disruptions, leading to reduced levels of service for other bus riders. Bus bridging policies and the affordability of ride-hailing raise questions regarding the equitable distribution of transit capacity during subway disruptions. After analyzing 78 major subway disruptions in Toronto, we found that bus routes serving disadvantaged populations were more likely to be negatively impacted by diversions for subway disruptions, than routes operating in more affluent areas of the city. We also found that ride-hailing demand increased during subway disruptions, but not in the more disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The research points to inequalities in how transit riders are impacted by subway disruptions, and further identifies how ride-hailing actually serves to reinforce these inequalities, rather than ameliorate them.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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