Transit agencies played an essential role in ensuring the mobility of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Faced with a challenging environment, agencies operated buses and trains day in, day out, moving millions of people, especially essential workers who kept society going even at the height of the health crisis. Even though agencies experienced a dramatic loss of riders during the pandemic, they were resilient and creative in moving forward.
As the industry and nation begin to look to the future, we examined how demographic, employment, and travel trends may change in the coming decades. Based on the data, four overarching recommendations were developed for agencies:
- Institutionalize Best Practices from the COVID-19 Period
- Plan and Operate More Effectively in Prioritizing Social Equity
- Leverage Opportunities to Expand Ridership
- Keep Abreast of Changing Trends
To evaluate transit agencies’ responses to the pandemic and their future plans, we collected data from operators, deployed a nationwide survey of staff, and conducted detailed case studies of five agencies. We amassed information on how demographic, employment, and travel trends may change in the coming decades. Finally, we developed recommendations for agencies to leverage best practices to ensure their ability to provide equitable access to mobility in the coming decades.