Transit use reduction following COVID-19: The effect of threat appraisal, proactive coping and institutional trust

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, planning - surveys, planning - service level, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, ridership - perceptions, ridership - demand


Transit, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Passenger demand, Protection Motivation Theory, Treat appraisal, Coping appraisal


Transit systems suffered from a significant demand decrease during COVID-19. Understanding the psychological motivators underlying reduced transit use can help transit authorities and operators to take proactive action towards returning to the “new normal” and increasing their preparedness towards future pandemics. This study is based on the protection motivation theory to understand the effect of threat appraisal, and coping appraisal and denial mechanisms on transit use reduction for commuting. The behavioral framework is validated by a survey of 856 transit users in Israel during August 2020, three months after the end of the lockdown and before the vaccine administration. The results show that: i) Skepticism, risk ubiquity, and personal immunity beliefs lead to maladaptive threat appraisal; ii) wearing masks and social distancing are antecedents of fear of infection while using transit and reduced transit use; iii) higher perceived threat deters transit use, while trust in transit operators motivates transit use; and iv) in a franchised transit system, trust in transit operators depends on the perceived level-of-service and trust in the ability of government authorities to regulate, monitor and enforce transit operators' preventive and protective actions.


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


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