To increase or to decrease the price? Managing public transport queues during COVID-19 in the presence of strategic commuters

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, policy - fares, policy - equity, economics - pricing


Public transport, COVID-19, Strategic behavior, Queueing game, Pricing


The impact of COVID-19 on urban travel behavior has been unprecedented. It has significantly influenced the travel mode choices of different urban commuters in various countries across the globe. Given that the public transport providers need to tradeoff between minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and providing an affordable travel choice in this environment, we develop a strategic queueing model to analyze the effect of different pricing strategies on the commuter behavior. In particular, we consider a Markovian queue in front of a public transport ticket counter wherein strategic commuters arrive at the service facility and make joining or balking decisions based on their derived utilities. In contrast to conventional wisdom, we suggest that the public transport provider needs to decrease the price to filter out the wealthy commuters who possess feasible alternative travel options from using public transport and promote the commuters with no alternatives in using public transport.


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