COVid-19 influenced households’ Interrupted Travel Schedules (COVHITS) survey: Lessons from the fall 2020 cycle

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, planning - surveys, operations - frequency, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, ridership - demand


COVID-19 impacts on travel demand, Travel behaviour, Activity-travel pattern, Household travel survey


The spread of the novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) since early in 2020 has affected every aspect of daily life, including urban passenger travel patterns. Lockdowns to control the spread of COVID-19 created unprecedented travel demand contexts that have never been seen in modern history. So, it is essential to benchmark trends of travel behaviour, especially people's daily travel patterns that are necessary to develop a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of COVID-19. A multi-cycle benchmarking household travel study: the COVid-19 influenced Households' Interrupted Travel Schedules (COVHITS) Survey was implemented in the Greater Toronto Area with a random sample of over 4000 households. The results indicated a stark alteration in people's daily activity-travel patterns due to COVID-19. The pandemic caused a substantial decline in mobility in the study area. The average weekday household trip rate dropped from 5.2 to 2.0 trips. Transit modal shares suffered severely during the paramedic, while private car dependency was enhanced. Overall, transit modal share dropped from 17.3% to 8.1% in the study area, while the modal share of private cars increased from 70.8% to 74.1%. Factors such as having to work from home, ownership of private cars, and household incomes influenced mobility levels of the people in the study area during the pandemic. While overlooked, travel demand analysis can reveal effective strategies to curb the spread of such contagious diseases. An econometric model and analysis of sample data reveal several potential strategies. These include: (1) working/learning from home should be implemented until the end of the pandemic; (2) transit agencies should provide as much transit frequency as possible (particularly for bus routes) during peak hours to avoid crowding inside transit vehicles and project a positive image of public transit; and (3) strict restrictions should be implemented in regions with lower confirmed COVID-19 cases, as they became attractive destinations during the pandemic.


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


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