The impact of COVID-19 on future public transport use in Scotland

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - rail, planning - surveys, planning - methods, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions, ridership - demand, policy - equity, policy - sustainable


Public transport, COVID-19, travel intentions, random parameters, bivariate probit


This paper examines the determinants of changes in future public transport use in Scotland after the COVID-19 pandemic. An online questionnaire was distributed to 994 Scottish residents in order to identify travel habits, attitudes and preferences during the different phases of the COVID-19 outbreak and travel intentions after the pandemic. Quota constraints were enforced for age, gender and household income to ensure the sample was representative of the Scottish population. The respondents indicated that they anticipated they would make less use of buses and trains at the end of the pandemic. Over a third expect to use buses (36%) and trains (34%) less, whilst a quarter expect to drive their cars more. As part of the analysis, a random parameter bivariate probit model with heterogeneity in the means of random parameters was estimated to provide insights into the socio-demographic, behavioural and perceptual factors which might affect future public transport usage. The inclusion of random parameters allows for the potential effects of unobserved heterogeneity within the independent variables to be captured, whilst making allowances for heterogeneity in the means of the random parameters. The model estimation showed that several factors, including pre-lockdown travel choices, perceived risk of COVID-19 infection, household size and region significantly affected intended future use of public transport. In addition, several variables related to age, region, pre-lockdown travel choices and employment status resulted in random parameters. The current paper contributes to our understanding of the potential loss of demand for public transport and the consequences for future equitable and sustainable mobility. Our findings are highly relevant for transport policy when developing measures to strengthen the resilience of the public transport system during and after the pandemic.


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


Transportation Research Part A Home Page: