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.
KEERTANA SURESHBABU, BS
Keertana is a graduate student majoring in M.S. Human Factor Ergonomics at San José State University. She received her BS in Psychology from the University of Washington in 2019.
EGBE-ETU ETU, PHD
Dr. Etu is an Assistant Professor of Business Analytics at San José State University (SJSU). He is also a Research Associate in the Mineta Transportation Institute. Before joining SJSU, Dr. Etu received his PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Wayne State University in 2021 and his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Covenant University, Nigeria, in 2016. His research interests center on the development of use-inspired machine learning models to solve challenging business problems in healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation. He is a member of the Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (IEOM), Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineering (IISE), and SAVE International.
SUSAN SUMMERVILLE, BS
Susan is a graduate student majoring in MS Human Factor Ergonomics at San José State University. She received her BS in Kinesiology from Texas Tech University in 2017.
ANKUR PARMAR, BS
Ankur is a graduate student majoring in MS Artificial Intelligence at San José State University. He received his BS in Applied Petroleum Engineering from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in 2016. His research interests lie in Deep Learning and Reinforcement Learning.
GAOJIAN HUANG, PHD
Dr. Huang joined San José State University (SJSU) as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering in Fall 2021. Currently, he is the director of the Behavior, Accessibility, and Technology (BAT) Research Lab. He is also a Research Associate in the Mineta Transportation Institute and a Faculty Affiliate in the Center on Healthy Aging in Multicultural Population at San José State University. He received master’s degrees in Cognitive Psychology from Purdue University and Safety Management from Indiana University Bloomington in 2020 and 2016, respectively, and obtained his PhD in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University in 2021.