Synopsis on Research on Impact of COVID-19 on Public Transit

Published on: October 29, 2021

In September 2021, two studies were released by the Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility (SURCOM) regarding the topic of transit and COVID-19.

  1. Using Topic Modeling to Identify Public Opinion on Public Transportation During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Topic modeling is a type of statistical modeling for discovering the topics that occurred in a collection of documents. This is a good read if you want to learn more about topic modeling and using social media as a research tool for tracking trends with your ridership. It includes lessons learned, including some of the challenges of using this type of data.
  2. Survey of Transit Riders and Agencies During the COVID-19 Pandemic: This is a study examining public opinion toward transit during the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in rider behavior and responses by transit agencies. As transit agencies, this research will likely support what you already know first hand — there was a substantial decrease in ridership and revenue. Agencies can find this insight useful: When asked what transit agencies could do to entice respondents to ride public transportation again, or to have them try transit if they have never ridden before, the most common responses were disinfecting and cleaning, mask enforcement, suggestions about service and operations, and social distancing and temperature checks.

SURCOM is part of the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University.

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