Quantifying the impact of COVID-19 on travel behavior in different socio-economic segments

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, ridership - behaviour, organisation - governance, policy - equity, planning - surveys, technology - passenger information


COVID-19, Travel behavior, Socio-economic segments (SES), Mobile device location data, Fixed-effect panel regression model


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in substantial negative impacts on social equity. To investigate transport inequities in communities with varying medical resources and COVID controlling measures during the COVID pandemic and to develop transport-related policies for the post-COVID-19 world, it is necessary to evaluate how the pandemic has affected travel behavior patterns in different socio-economic segments (SES). We first analyze the travel behavior change percentage due to COVID, e.g., increased working from home (WFH), decreased in-person shopping trips, decreased public transit trips, and canceled overnight trips of individuals with varying age, gender, education levels, and household income, based on the most recent US Household Pulse Survey census data during Aug 2020 ∼ Dec 2021. We then quantify the impact of COVID-19 on travel behavior of different socio-economic segments, using integrated mobile device location data in the USA over the period 1 Jan 2020–20 Apr 2021. Fixed-effect panel regression models are proposed to statistically estimate the impact of COVID monitoring measures and medical resources on travel behavior such as nonwork/work trips, travel miles, out-of-state trips, and the incidence of WFH for low SES and high SES. We find that as exposure to COVID increases, the number of trips, traveling miles, and overnight trips started to bounce back to pre-COVID levels, while the incidence of WFH remained relatively stable and did not tend to return to pre-COVID level. We find that the increase in new COVID cases has a significant impact on the number of work trips in the low SES but has little impact on the number of work trips in the high SES. We find that the fewer medical resources there are, the fewer mobility behavior changes that individuals in the low SES will undertake. The findings have implications for understanding the heterogeneous mobility response of individuals in different SES to various COVID waves and thus provide insights into the equitable transport governance and resiliency of the transport system in the “post-COVID” era.


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


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