Mitigating Increased Driving after the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Analysis on Mode Share, Travel Demand, and Public Transport Capacity

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - north america, place - urban, operations - capacity, ridership - demand, planning - methods


planning and Analysis, transportation planning policy and processes, multimodal, multimodal planning, travel choices, public transportation, planning and development


Reduced transit capacity to accommodate social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic was a sudden constraint that along with a large reduction in total travel volume and a shift in activity patterns contributed to abrupt changes in transportation mode shares across cities worldwide. There are major concerns that as the total travel demand rises back toward prepandemic levels, the overall transport system capacity with transit constraints will be insufficient for the increasing demand. This paper uses city-level scenario analysis to examine the potential increase in post-COVID-19 car use and the feasibility of shifting to active transportation, based on prepandemic mode shares and varying levels of reduction in transit capacity. An application of the analysis to a sample of cities in Europe and North America is presented. Mitigating an increase in driving requires a substantial increase in active transportation mode share, particularly in cities with high pre-COVID-19 transit ridership; however, such a shift may be possible based on the high percentage of short-distance motorized trips. The results highlight the importance of making active transportation attractive and reinforce the value of multimodal transportation systems as a strategy for urban resilience. This paper provides a strategic planning tool for policy makers facing challenging transportation system decisions in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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