Small Urban and Rural Center on Mobility

SURCOM Publishes Papers on Transit and COVID-19

SURCOM has published two studies on transit and COVID-19. Both projects were lead by PhD students and were based on analyses and surveys conducted in the summer and fall of 2020. The first study examined public opinion toward transit during the COVID-19 pandemic by analyzing social media posts on Twitter. Results showed how the discussion regarding public transit changed during the first several months of 2020. The study used a technique called topic modeling, and it shared lessons learned while applying this method.

The second study also examined public opinion, as well as changes in rider behavior and transit agency response. This was accomplished through two surveys. First, a survey of transit riders and the public was conducted to examine response to the pandemic. This survey was conducted largely of transit users in the Fargo-Moorhead (ND-MN) metro area but also included responses from around the country. Results showed that many had reduced or stopped their usage of transit. While respondents were generally satisfied with the response of transit agencies and felt that their health was being protected, many also gave recommendations for what transit agencies could do to increase their likelihood of using transit. Second, a survey of transit agencies was conducted to identify how they were impacted by COVID-19. This survey focused on rural and small urban systems, and most responses were from North Dakota. Results show the substantial decrease in ridership and revenue, the challenges faced by transit agencies, and the actions taken.

The two studies can be found at the links below:

Using Topic Modeling to Identify Public Opinion on Public Transportation During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Surveys of Transit Riders and Agencies During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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