The Covid pandemic has brought a strategic inflection point (SIP) to the world and eco-system of transportation. Before the pandemic, the transportation industry was in a state of upheaval due to the entrance of new tech-driven on-demand mobility services. Long standing travel habits such as driving to the store were starting to change and be replaced by ride hailing, home delivery, and using shared bikes or e-scooters instead of a car. During the Covid crisis, people had to adapt their travel behavior even more, abandoning their commute under shelter-in-place orders and starting to bike and walk more around their local neighborhood. New high tech mobility options like flying taxis and space tourism were making headlines during the pandemic, yet people were actually buying traditional reliable options like used cars and bicycles in unprecedented numbers. Public transit ridership plummeted to historic lows, calling its survival into question, while fixed routes began to be replaced by on-demand services.
This project investigates the question of what happens next. Which long-term trends boosted by the pandemic are here to stay? Will some travel return to pre-pandemic norms? What new technological and institutional adaptations are required to serve the “new normal” for travel demand and traffic? We will address these questions using a mixed methods approach. First, a review of the scientific and news literature will assess the emerging trends and understanding in the public dialogue on these topics. We will then interview leading entrepreneurs, technologists, executives, leading experts, top government officials in mobility and transportation businesses for their thoughts and opinions about their predictions and expectations, after the pandemic is over. These interviews will be video recorded on a video conferencing platform (e.g. Zoom) and disseminated as a series of case studies.
U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology - $6,000
This project will produce knowledge about impacts of the Covid pandemic on the transportation system, including travel demand, traffic, transit ridership, and on-demand modes. The video case studies will be posted online, making it widely accessible. Viewers will learn about the management challenges faced by private and public sector leaders, how they adapted to the pandemic, and how they are preparing for the “new normal”.