Public Transit and COVID-19
(Last updated: June 2021)
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted major cities around the world, leading to businesses and public facilities closures and stay-at-home orders. Public transit ridership decreased drastically not only due to closures of workplaces and destinations, but also a fear of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in indoor spaces. This list highlights available resources that discuss whether public transit environments contribute to SARS-CoV-2 transmission, potential interventions to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in public transit vehicles, and suggestions to restore public trust and improve public transit ridership in the post-pandemic era. This list is not meant to be exhaustive.
SARS-CoV-2 transmission in public transit environments
- Public transit is COVID-safe (Union Internationale des Transports Publics, 2020)
This policy brief summarizes current evidence on the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in public transit vehicles and strategies to reduce transmission risks.
- Public Transit and COVID-19 Pandemic: Global Research and Best Practices (Sam Schwartz Consulting, 2020)
This report summarizes the research and epidemiological evidence behind SARS-CoV-2 transmission and transit usage in different US and international cities, as well as case studies examining how and whether transit usage contributed to COVID-19 case rates in different cities. The report also discusses strategies for infection control and pandemic response in public transit facilities and vehicles around the world, and describes several measures to restore public trust and improve transit ridership.
- Public Transport and COVID-19 – What We Know So Far (Public Health Ontario, 2020)
This evidence brief examines current evidence on SARS-CoV-2 transmission in public transit vehicles, as well as recommendations to reduce transmission risk in transit environments.
COVID-19 pandemic impacts on public transit ridership
- How coronavirus is disrupting public transit (Transitapp, 2021)
This database displays the usage data of the Transit app in supported cities around the world to provide a rough estimate of ridership demand during the pandemic in comparison to pre-pandemic numbers.
- Public transport planning adaption under the COVID-19 pandemic crisis: literature review of research needs and directions (Gkiotsalitis & Cats, 2020)
This review discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted public transit systems and suggestions for adaptations in future planning.
Mitigating SARS-CoV-2 transmission in public transit environments
- Management of COVID-19: Guidelines for public transport operators (Union Internationale des Transports Publics, 2020)
This fact sheet provides several recommendations for pandemic preparedness and strategies to protect the health of transit staff in a pandemic such as COVID-19.
- The COVID-19 Pandemic – Public Transportation Responds: Safeguarding Riders and Employees (American Public Transportation Association, 2020)
This guide outlines strategies to evaluate resources in transit authorities, provides guidance to mitigate risks and hazards to riders and transit staff as well as information to seek financial support to ensure continuity of services.
- Cleaning and Disinfecting Transit Vehicles and Facilities During a Contagious Virus Pandemic (American Public Transportation Association, 2020)
This report describes options for cleaning and disinfecting environmental surfaces in transit vehicles and facilities, as well as antimicrobial surface materials that may be considered in transit vehicles.
- Global Practices for Protecting Employee and Customer Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Gasparine, J.A., Marino, M.P., & Margarin, A.R., 2020)
This report describes case studies of practices used internationally to control SARS-CoV-2 transmission in public transit facilities and vehicles that may be applied in the United States context, which is similar to Canada. The report also discusses the vital partnership between transit agencies and local health authorities.
Recovery and resilience
- Moving the Nation Through Crisis: Mobility Recovery & Restoration Task Force Report (American Public Transportation Association, 2020)
This report summarizes the findings from public surveys on transit use during and after the pandemic, as well as best practices to improve public confidence to encourage return to transit use.
- The Future of Mobility post-COVID (Union Internationale des Transports Publics, 2020)
This report discusses changes in mobility patterns post-COVID, and highlights opportunities for evolution in transit authorities and mobility providers to improve resilience in the future.
- COVID-19 Pandemic: Resuming public transport services post-lockdown (Union Internationale des Transports Publics, 2020)
This report discusses strategies to protect the health of riders and workers and considerations for resuming services post-lockdown during the pandemic.
- Management of COVID-19: Potential measures to restore confidence in rail travel following the COVID-19 pandemic (International Union of Railways, 2020)
This report describes several measures to reduce person-to-person and object-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2, as well as communication strategies to restore public confidence and increase rail ridership in the post-pandemic era.
- COVID-19: Public transit and a green, inclusive recovery (Canadian Urban Transit Association, 2021)
This report provides strategies and recommendations to improve the efficiency, equity, and climate benefits of public transit systems not only for recovery, but also to better prepare public transit systems for future crises.
- Future of Public Transit and Shared Mobility: Scenario Planning for COVID-19 Recovery (University of California Institute of Transportation Studies, 2020)
This report presents findings from expert and stakeholder groups on short-term, mid-term, and long-term policy options and recommendations for post-COVID-19 recovery in a variety of hypothetical scenarios.