See COVID-19’s impact on transit in your city

Email sent: Apr 1, 2020 4:10pm
Public transit has been doing backflips to keep people safe. See the impact of the pandemic with our real-time, agency-by-agency COVID-19 dashboard.

So. This March has been stressful.

As the world responds to COVID-19, the public transportation industry has been doing backflips to keep passengers and workers safe, and to keep cities running smoothishly. Most transit agencies are still operating, but demand is — no surprise! — down across the board. (Which is good! Stay home!)

You can see for yourself, in our real-time, agency-by-agency COVID-19 dashboard here.

The dashboard lets you compare demand day-by-day, hour-by-hour, in different cities. You’ll see the West Coast’s earlier response to the crisis, the steeper declines in college towns, and the South’s markedly slower decline in Transit usage.

We’ve also noticed the virtual disappearance of rush hour commuting, which means when service is maintained, vehicles are generally less crowded. Good news for essential workers that depend on transit as a lifeline.

Journalists at the CBC and the Washington Post are using our data — if you’d like to do the same, we have customizable charts for your local agency here.

So far, the pandemic has had two main impacts on day-to-day operations: for one, the collapse in ridership has resulted in a steep decline in farebox revenue. Alongside our American agency friends, we petitioned for funding relief — and more than 5,000 Transit users contacted Congress. Good news: $25B in relief came through, with (hopefully) more on the way 🤞. We’ll be supporting similar funding efforts here in Canada and elsewhere.

The second impact on transit has been all of the pandemic-related service changes: rear-door boarding, the suspension of fares, running weekday service on “Saturday/Sunday” schedules, etc.

Our team is in constant contact with transit agencies, surfacing these service changes to our riders in real time. We’re using push notifications, in-app banners, and checking for GTFS updates every four hours. More than 90% of our users have used these localized COVID-19 updates.

  1.  If you’re working at an agency affected by COVID-19 and want to communicate a service change to riders (or to compare notes with other agencies)? Here’s how.
  2. If you’re switching service to Saturday/Sunday schedules? We’ve built a tool that can reflect these changes in your GTFS immediately. Just let us know.
  3. Making other changes to your GTFS? Like removing routes, or adding temporary shuttles? IBI Group has made their GTFS tools free.

As transit ridership stays down, other modes are stepping up. We’ve seen a pivot to cycling and bikeshare, as commuters try to avoid crowds. Cities are setting up emergency bike lanes and banning cars from certain streets. Bikeshare operators in Chicago, New York, Kansas City, Boston, and Santa Monica are all pitching in, offering free and/or discounted rides. Detroit's MoGo is even giving away free monthly passes so people have a safe, spacious way to get around.

If you have any stories to share re: COVID-19 (as a rider, or from an agency/operator point of view) reply to this email & let us know. You should also tune in to next Wednesday’s “Public Transit in the Time of COVID-19” webinar we're co-hosting with Swiftly, featuring familiar names like:

  • Michael Helta, Chief Innovation Officer (MDOT MTA)
  • David Zipper, urbanist firebrand (CityLab) and Visiting Fellow (Harvard Kennedy School)
  • Steve Young, VP Technology & Innovation (VIA Metropolitan Transit)
  • Jenn “The Swiftest” Golech, Transit Planner (Swiftly Inc.)
  • David Block-Schachter, Chief Business Officer (Transit)
  • And yes, Jarrett Walker, President (Jarrett Walker and Associates)

Join other public transit staff facing the crisis for an “ask me anything” webinar. It's going down Wednesday, April 8 at 1 PM Eastern (10 AM Pacific). Check in here to save your seat!

We’re glued to the news and updating our users as fast as we can. We’re not sure how long this crisis situation will last — but we’ll keep you in the loop about changes.

Be safe out there!

Like the cut of our jib? Forward to a friend — via text, bike messenger, paper airplane, whatever. And here’s a link to our newsletter sign-up form, if you haven’t subscribed.

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