As shelter in place orders were enacted across the country, mobility patterns and behaviors changed drastically, almost overnight. The navigation app Waze, which has 130 million users worldwide, reports drivers are traveling 60% fewer miles compared to a daily average taken for a two-week period in February.1 Changes in driving and walking requests on Apple Maps directions reveal an approximate 60% drop from January 13 to April 2020, while transit requests had dropped approximately 80%. As of July 2020, driving and walking requests are 34% and 18% higher than the baseline respectively, while transit requests remain 47% lower than the baseline.
In addition to massive losses in ridership, transit agencies are facing the additional challenges of increased costs related to new cleaning and disinfection protocols, and decreased revenues from fare collection and taxes.
While the challenges facing transit agencies are complex, transit remains the lifeblood of our cities by enabling access to jobs and educational opportunities, supporting greenhouse gas reduction and sustainability, and providing a fundamental public enabling people to connect more efficiently with a wider variety of jobs, increasing wages and economic activity.4 A better normal for mobility has public transit as the backbone of the transportation system. The current crisis necessitates a new way of thinking about how to support and fund transit going forward, while balancing cost-structures for more equitable mobility options as outlined in the action plan below.