Transport disrupted – Substituting public transport by bike or car under Covid 19

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - tram/light rail, mode - bike, mode - car, mode - rail, place - europe, place - urban, planning - surveys, ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice, ridership - modelling


Covid 19, Public transport, Transport disruption, Substitutability, Travel behavior, Spatial embeddedness


The Covid 19 pandemic has caused dramatic disruptions in the public transport sector that has seen a stark downturn in many cities across the globe, calling into question previous efforts to reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions by expanding this sector. Especially, the current surge of individual car use is worrying and the question remains which users might be able and willing to substitute public transport by cycling. This effect is interesting to study for the case of Hanover Region, because of the well-developed biking infrastructure that makes biking a viable alternative to individual car use. In this paper, we analyze survey data from June 2020 on the use of transportation modes before and during the pandemic in the Hanover Region. We ask if and how the over 4.000 participants substitute public transport and what characterizes those who chose biking over individual car use. We use multivariate regression models and find evidence that Stadtbahn (local light rail) and bus are substituted by bike, car and working from home, while train use is not significantly replaced by car and seems to be positively related to bike use. The data also shows that women have a higher level of fear of infection than men have during public transport use and therefore reduce public transport use more. Moreover, income displays a positive effect on increased car use while cycling is independent of socio-economic indicators but instead driven by the eco-consciousness of users. Surprisingly, we find that car use was increased in particular by residents of Hanover city, while it was decreased by residents of less densely populated urban areas in the region.


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


Transportation Research Part A Home Page: