Transit service Improvements to cope with COVID-19

Kattan, Lina | $50,000

Alberta The University of Calgary 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

This research proposal focuses on mitigating the massive negative short-term to the long-term impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on public transportation. As all transit agencies absorb a reduction between 70-90% in travel demand, they have mostly reduced their service in response. There are major concerns regarding transit service and ridership getting back to the pre-COVID-19 level. In addition, the current cuts in service will result in a further downward spiral in travel demand. As the COVID‑19 phased reopening of the economy is expected to be highly uncertain and dynamic, a modular framework is needed to continuously adapt the transit service while responding to the expected spatio-temporal fluctuation of travel demand. As a result of this concern and in collaboration with Calgary Transit, we propose an innovative research project which includes two main objectives:

1) Conducting a combined revealed and stated preference survey on users’ perceptions and attitudes towards transit use during and after lockdown. We will examine different policies such as measures to flatten the transit demand peak; at-station and in-vehicle measures such as passenger metering and crowding control.

2) Developing an adaptive schedule planning decision support tool based on outcomes from objective 1 and the continuously collected automated transit data. We will propose novel strategies to periodically enhance service to facilitate an increase in ridership while taking into account the issues of public health, as well as the capital and operating costs of the system.

The outcomes from this research will provide decision support tools to our Calgary Transit (CT) partner – as well as researchers – that will enable proactive planning for the post COVID‑19 phased opening of the economy. Significant economic benefits are expected as the findings will help CT and other transit agencies to reclaim their ridership. The expected outcomes will also be of the highest value for Canadians in terms of public health, safety and other long-term social and environmental benefits.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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