Exploring the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on modality profiles for non-mandatory trips in the Greater Toronto Area

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice


COVID-19, Pandemic, Modality, Non-mandatory activities, Latent class cluster analysis


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered daily life in cities across the world. To slow the spread of COVID-19, many countries have introduced mobility restrictions, ordered the temporary closure of businesses, and encouraged social distancing. These policies have directly and indirectly influenced travel behaviour, particularly modal preferences. The purpose of this paper to explore modality profiles for non-mandatory trips and analyze how they have changed in response to the pandemic and pandemic-related public health policies. The data used for this study were collected from web-based surveys conducted in the Greater Toronto Area. Modality profiles were identified through the application of latent class cluster analysis, with six modality profiles being identified for both the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods. The results indicate that the importance of public transit has declined during the pandemic, while the roles of private vehicles and active modes have become more prominent. However, individuals’ changes in modal preferences vary based on their pre-pandemic modality profile. In particular, it appears that pre-pandemic transit users with access to a private vehicle have substituted public transit for travel by private vehicle, while those without private vehicle access are continuing to use public transit for non-mandatory trips. Consequently, pandemic-related transportation policies should consider those who do not have access to a private vehicle and aim to help those making non-mandatory trips using transit or active modes comply with local public health guidelines while travelling. The results highlight how the changes in modal preferences that occurred due to the pandemic differ among different segments of the population.


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


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