Exploring the Use of Public Transportation Among Older Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A National Survey

Public transportation is an essential part of many older adults’ lives, but the pandemic presented new challenges for the vulnerable population. Adults aged 65 years and older experienced additional challenges, such as limited mobility options (e.g., lack of buses or trains in service due a combination of government lockdowns, fear of contracting or spreading the virus, and driver shortages in certain areas) because of the pandemic, which may have resulted in more age-related declines in perceptual, cognitive, and physical functioning. This study explores how older adults living in major metropolitan cities in the United States used and perceived public transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research team conducted an online survey through the Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) crowdsourcing marketplace, a platform that offers opportunities to recruit a larger number of participants from diverse geographic locations. 260 respondents completed the survey. Eligibility included: (1) residing in the United States, (2) being aged 55 years or older (the oldest age that can be selected on MTurk), and (3) having an approval rating of 90% or above (i.e., the percentage of the workers’ submitted tasks approved by survey requesters, offered by the MTurk platform). Overall, older adults reported that they had changed travel patterns since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, experienced challenges in using public transportation, and expressed concerns about catching the SARS-CoV-2 virus while using public transportation. Mobile technology (e.g., a transportation navigation app) was perceived as a good option for finding public transportation information, but needs improved user experience and accessibility. These findings may help transit agencies develop effective strategies for improving transportation services and increasing policymakers’ awareness of older adults’ need for accessible public transportation.

Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University
Principal Investigator: 
Gaojian Huang & Egbe-Etu Etu
PI Contact Information: 

Gaojian Huang gaojian.huang@sjsu.edu

Egbe-Etu Etu egbe-etu.etu@sjsu.edu

San Jose State University

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology - $6,546.76

Total Project Cost: 
Agency ID or Contract Number: 
November 2022
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

Possible findings of this project will provide empirical evidence on how older adults use technology in daily life to maintain their mobility, advance research in technology acceptance models, and provide guidance for engineers and designers to increase the accessibility for universal users.

Project Number: 



Contact Us

SJSU Research Foundation   210 N. 4th Street, 4th Floor, San Jose, CA 95112    Phone: 408-924-7560   Email: mineta-institute@sjsu.edu