Factors affecting public transport performance due to the COVID-19 outbreak: A worldwide analysis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - service quality, ridership - commuting, ridership - modelling, operations - frequency, operations - performance


Public transport, Moovit, COVID-19, Income inequality, Waiting time, Trip frequency, Quality of service


In this paper we investigate the public transport trip frequency variations, as well as the reasons that led to the shift away from public transport means, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We studied relevant data from the Moovit platform, and we compared operational and trip frequency characteristics of public transport systems before and after the outbreak of the pandemic in 87 cities worldwide. On average, waiting times at public transport stops/stations increased while trip distances decreased, apparently due to the mobility restriction and social distancing measures implemented in 2020. Most of the Moovit users who said that they abandoned public transport in 2020 were found in Italy and Greece. We developed linear regression analysis models to investigate (among the 35 variables examined in the study) the relationship between public transport abandonment rates and socioeconomic factors, quality of service characteristics, and indicators of pandemic's spread. Empirical findings show that public transport dropout rates are positively correlated with the COVID-19 death toll figures, the cleanliness of public transport vehicles and facilities, as well as with the income inequality (GINI) index of the population, and thus reconfirm previous research findings. In addition, the waiting time at stops/stations and the number of transfers required for commute trips appeared to be the most critical public transport trip segments, which significantly determine the discontinuation of public transport use under pandemic circumstances. Our research findings indicate specific aspects of public transport services, which require tailored adjustments in order to recover ridership in the post-pandemic period.


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