Changing transport planning objectives during the Covid-19 lockdowns: Actions taken and lessons learned for enhancing sustainable urban mobility planning

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, policy - sustainable, policy - environment, policy - equity, planning - surveys, planning - methods, planning - environmental impact


Covid-19, Transport planning, Authorities, SUMP, Emergency planning


Whilst there is research on how Covid-19 impacted travel demand and transport business, little attention has been paid on how Covid-19 has affected authorities' transport planning priorities and the actions taken to protect the public while travelling. This paper attempts to shed light on: a) how the transport planning priorities changed during the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020/2021, and b) how the planning phases of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) framework can be strengthened to support a more resilient emergency planning environment. To address these questions, an online questionnaire was designed followed up by personal interviews from selected European cities. Data collection took place in November and December 2020, when most European countries were in lockdowns. Thirteen public authorities participated in the online questionnaire, while nine out of them were further interviewed. A mixed methods approach is used to analyse the quantitative and qualitative data and bring the results together to assess how SUMP priorities have changed. The results showed that the priority planning objectives were different in the period during the 2020/2021 lockdowns compared to the period before that. Public transport system planning was a priority in both periods, while planning for shared mobility and Mobility as a Service was further prioritised in the 2020/21 lockdowns. The main reasons for prioritising specific planning objectives were to secure public health, minimise environmental impact, support economic recovery and address social equity. The changes in the priority of planning objectives were also diverse between smaller and larger urban areas. Most of the actions adopted to accommodate the prioritised planning objectives were already defined before Covid-19, indicating that the lockdowns have acted as an accelerator of specific existing planning objectives.


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