Does COVID-19 affect metro use in Taipei?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, ridership - perceptions


COVID-19, Lockdowns, Metro traffic, Difference-in-differences, Taipei metro system


This paper provides the first evidence of the causal effect of COVID-19 on metro use using real-time data from the Taipei Metro System in Taiwan. In contrast to other cities or countries, Taiwan did not enforce strict social lockdowns or mandatory stay-at-home orders to combat COVID-19. The major prevention strategies to the pandemic in Taiwan include promoting social distancing, mandating the wearing of face masks in public areas, and requiring all international arrivals to quarantine for 14 days. Using administrative data on confirmed cases of COVID-19 and ridership from metro stations with the difference-in-differences model, we find that an additional new confirmed case of COVID-19 reduces metro use by 1.43% after controlling for local socio-demographic variables associated with ridership and the number of international arrivals to Taiwan. This result implies that the reduction in metro trips is attributable to decreases in residents' use of public transportation due to perceived health risks. Furthermore, the effect of COVID-19 on metro use disproportionally impacts stations with different characteristics. The effect is more pronounced for metro stations connected to night markets, shopping centers, or colleges. Although decreases in metro ridership lower the revenue of the Taipei Metro System, our results indicate a tradeoff between increased financial burdens of public transportation systems and reducing medical expenses associated with COVID-19.


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


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