Twilytics: A Social Perception Analysis of Public Transit Systems during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic posed unique and unforeseen challenges to the movement of people, goods, and services globally. Numerous studies have shown that public transportation has been identified as one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic. With the fear of contracting the virus, most commuters stopped using public transportation in favor of private transportation, which led to a decline in public transportation usage. A number of public health strategies and policies have been implemented to protect public health on transit systems. Are these strategies or policies working? What is the social perception of the public transit systems thus far, especially with the availability of vaccines and other COVID-19 preventive measures (e.g., use of face masks and hand sanitizers) used to reduce the spread of the virus? This project aims to assess the public’s perception of transit systems during the pandemic via a social media analysis. We propose a structured transportation tweet analytics (Twilytics) framework to analyze public discourse data (i.e., Twitter data) on the impact of COVID-19 (i.e., early pandemic, lockdowns, peak pandemic, vaccine rollout, multiple variants) on the different modes of transportation.

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

Mineta Transportation Institute
San José State University
210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor
San José, CA 95112

Egbe-Etu Etu

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 - $6,543

Total Project Cost: 
Agency ID or Contract Number: 
December 2021 to June 2022
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

This project will help bridge the gap between public health, transport, and commuter needs by helping transportation professionals and city planners better understand the social perception of transit systems during the pandemic. The research will help inform transport managers and city planners of the existing problems and potential improvements, thereby developing adaptive policies/strategies to create a safer and more reliable public transportation system in a pandemic. In addition, results may be useful for future, similar pandemics.

Project Number: 



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