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How is the global transport sector responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, transport providers have had to make substantial changes to how they manage their organisations and serve their customers.  The Transport Strategy Center has been working on academic research on this topic as well as supporting members of its benchmarking groups with applied research. This page has information and links to several pieces of TSC work that are publicly accessible.


This document summarises recent updates and key findings related to COVID-19, sourced from the members and activities of the metro, rail, bus, and light rail benchmarking groups managed through the TSC.

The purpose of this document is to help transport operators optimise their response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by sharing knowledge and experience from a wide range of organisations globally, including many of the largest operators in the world’s major cities. The focus is on both short-term measures to deal with specific challenges arising from the pandemic in the present, as well as on longer-term impacts, such as the funding crisis or more permanent changes to travel patterns and behaviour, that operators are having to respond to and plan for.

From February 2023, the TSC's cross-group benchmarking review no longer focuses principally on the impact of COVID-19 on the transport industry. The most recent editions of this report can be found under Applied Research > Other Activities.

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  • November 2021
Insights into the impact of COVID on public transport:

Presentations from the APTA TRANSform Conference

The following presentations were given at APTA’s TRANSform Conference & Expo in Orlando in November:

Presented by Colin Foley, Project Manager, Light Rail Benchmarking, to the Rail Transit and Commuter Rail committee meetings.

Presented by Alex Barron, Associate Director/Head of Metro & Light Rail Benchmarking to the Rail Transit CEO committee meeting.

Items 2

The COMET COVID-19 Discussion Paper summarises the primary and immediate impacts of the COVID-19 on metros, as well as the key future implications. Due to the pandemic, most metros, including those that did not previously require operational subsidies, are unlikely to be able to cover operating costs in 2021. The ongoing evolution of the pandemic makes it clear that the recovery period will be extended well beyond 2021 and some new travel patterns are likely to stay.

We trust COVID-19 vaccines, but with the rapid emergence of new strains of the virus no one knows if the world will quickly return to normal or restrictions on human interactions will remain with us for a while.

In this new study, authors Daniel HörcherRamandeep Singh and Dan Graham argue that - whatever the future holds - public transport operators should take a proactive stance and develop demand management capabilities, to be able to maintain any predefined level of physical distancing on board.

Items 3

This high-level summary document was prepared during the initial months of the pandemic, drawing upon information that was being shared within the TSC’s individual benchmarking groups by metro, rail, bus, light rail, and airport organisations around the world. The information has been synthesised by the TSC to provide a summary of the practices and approaches implemented, considerations for the future, and a summary of how these actions have been progressing since the early stages of the pandemic.