The impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on public transit demand in the United States

New paper: Liu L, Miller HJ, Scheff J (2020) The impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on public transit demand in the United States. PLOS ONE 15(11):e0242476. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0242476

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions led to major transit demand decline for many public transit systems in the United States. This paper is a systematic analysis of the dynamics and dimensions of this unprecedented decline. Using transit demand data derived from a widely used transit navigation app, we fit logistic functions to model the decline in daily demand and derive key parameters: base value, the apparent minimal level of demand and cliff and base points, representing the initial date when transit demand decline began and the final date when the decline rate attenuated. Regression analyses reveal that communities with higher proportions of essential workers, vulnerable populations (African American, Hispanic, Female, and people over 45 years old), and more coronavirus Google searches tend to maintain higher levels of minimal demand during COVID-19. Approximately half of the agencies experienced their decline before the local spread of COVID-19 likely began; most of these are in the US Midwest. Almost no transit systems finished their decline periods before local community spread. We also compare hourly demand profiles for each system before and during COVID-19 using ordinary Procrustes distance analysis. The results show substantial departures from typical weekday hourly demand profiles. Our results provide insights into public transit as an essential service during a pandemic.

Media

Ohio State as a 21st century urban university

In honor of Ohio State’s sesquicentennial anniversary, The Ohio State University Press just published a collection of essays – Fulfilling the 21st Century Land-Grant Mission: Essays in Honor of The Ohio State University’s Sesquicentennial Commemoration, edited by Stephen M. Gavazzi and David J. Staley.

My essay in this collection, Ohio State as a 21st Century Urban University,  discusses the major issues facing an urbanized world, laying out a broad agenda for urban scholarship and outreach. I also discuss the scientific revolution occurring in urban science, enabled by new data sources and powerful technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS). I also make a case for Ohio State as an urban university, reviewing the evolution of Ohio State’s capabilities in urban scholarship and outreach. I  conclude my essay with a discussion of Ohio State moving forward as an urban university: why Ohio is a good setting for urban scholarship, and the role that Ohio State can play in this new era.

Gap between rich, poor neighborhoods growing and self-reinforcing

A study led by Jinhyung Lee from Ohio State’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA) finds deepening and self-reinforcing polarization of neighborhood housing values in Columbus, Ohio.  Factors long thought to impact neighborhood values – distance to downtown, nearby highways, or attractions such as city parks – no longer matter as much as the neighborhoods themselves.

OSU News article: Gap between rich, poor neighborhoods growing in some cities