An accessible and inclusive public transportation management response to COVID-19 through a co-creation process with people with disability. The case of Metro Barcelona

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, planning - methods, planning - surveys, planning - service improvement, policy - disability, ridership - perceptions


COVID-19, Digitalisation, Disability, Urban transport, Service experience design, Accessibility, Value co-creation


The literature on digitalization and accessibility changes to public transport in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is limited. This paper reports on the urban public transport measures against COVID-19 launched by a Spanish transportation operator, TMB (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona), to ensure safe journeys where digitalization of services have been intensified. This study responds to the current trend whereby transport operators are quickly digitalizing their transportation services as a response to COVID-19. The outcome of the research is to apply contemporary academic theory to assist transportation managers in designing and enhancing transportation services for this group during the COVID-19 pandemic. While transport operators have improved their services to better address the needs of PwD, these changes are far from universal in approach. At the end of 2020, as part of an academic–industry collaboration with a Spanish transportation operator, 12 PwD, six transport staff members, and two representatives of two disability advocacy associations took part in an inclusive urban transportation research project in the city of Barcelona using the service-dominant (Ssingle bondD) logic co-creation process with PwD through a comparative approach. Specifically, we assessed the value outcome perceived by PwD in their Metro experience when resources resulting from the co-creation process were digital (Study 1) and when they were a combination of digital and non-digital (Study 2). To examine the PwD experience, a qualitative methodology was employed that incorporated online focus groups, ethnographic techniques and post-experience surveys with participants. Study 2 indicted better outcomes and explained how ensuring the appropriate combination of digital and non-digital resource allocation for PwD can improve the public transport experience. Our findings can be used by public transport policymakers for enhancing accessibility to improve public transport experiences during and after the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing digital and non-digital resources.


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


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