The impact of COVID-19 on mobility choices in Switzerland

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, ridership - behaviour


COVID-19, Transport, Mobility, GPS tracking, Causal forest


We study the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated government measures on individual mobility choices in Switzerland. Our data is based on over 1,600 people for which we observe all trips during eight weeks before the pandemic and until May 2021. We find an overall reduction of travel distances by 60 percent, followed by a gradual recovery during the subsequent re-opening of the economy. Whereas driving distances have almost completely recovered, public transport re-mains under-used. The introduction of a requirement to wear a mask in public transport had no measurable impact on ridership. The individual travel response to the pandemic varies along socio-economic dimensions such as education and house-hold size, with mobility tool ownership, and with personal values and lifestyles. We find no evidence for a significant substitution of leisure travel to compensate for the reduction in work-related travel.


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


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