Unraveling the dynamic impacts of COVID-19 on metro ridership: An empirical analysis of Beijing and Shanghai, China

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, ridership - demand, ridership - modelling


COVID-19 pandemic, Weather variables, Socio-economic variables, Metro ridership, Generalized linear models


The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had severely disruptive impacts on transportation, particularly public transit. To understand metro ridership changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this study conducts an in-depth analysis of two Chinese megacities from January 1, 2020, to August 31, 2021. Generalized linear models are used to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on metro ridership. The dependent variable is the relative change in metro ridership, and the independent variables include COVID-19, socio-economic, and weather variables. The results suggested the following: (1) The COVID-19 pandemic has a significantly negative effect on the relative change in metro ridership, and the number of cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases within 14 days performs better in regression models, which reflects the existence of the time lag effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. (2) Emergency responses are negatively associated with metro system usage according to severity and duration. (3) The marginal effects of the COVID-19 variables and emergency responses are larger on weekdays than on weekends. (4) The number of imported confirmed COVID-19 cases only significantly affects metro ridership in the weekend and new-normal-phase models for Beijing. In addition, the daily gross domestic product and weather variables are significantly associated with metro ridership. These findings can aid in understanding the usage of metro systems in the outbreak and new-normal phases and provide transit operators with guidance to adjust services.


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


Transport Policy Home Page: