ITE Journal - April 2021 - 38

A

s spring 2021 arrives, the United States and its transportation systems have
suffered through a full year of the impacts of COVID-19. It is unprecedented
and destined to be remembered as a historic and transformational event
impacting all elements of society both domestically and internationally. Trans-

portation is among the most affected sectors, where the long-term impacts are expected to play
out over several years. COVID-19 has produced changes in behaviors of individuals, businesses,
and governments that impact transportation. Some of these changes are expected to be retained
long after COVID-19 has diminished as an overwhelming public health threat. The depth and
duration of the pandemic are among the factors that influence the magnitude of changes and the
ultimate new normal for travel.
Changes in roadway travel give perspective to the impact of
COVID-19. Roadway travel is the least impacted because it allows
persons to socially distance and control exposure to contagion
risk, yet this mode suffered dramatically, with volumes for 2020
anticipated to post final numbers approximately 13 percent below
2019 levels. By March of this year, when a full year of COVID-19impacted vehicle miles of travel (VMT) will have accrued, rolling
12-month totals will be approximately 15 percent below prior year
levels. This decline compares with the approximately 2 percent
decline during the great recession and puts VMT at levels not seen
since 2003. The impact on many other modes is far more significant.
This article provides a brief descriptive portrait of the pandemic's
transportation impacts and shares a scenario for recovery trends.
Associated changes that are and will continue to influence travel
are previewed. Most of the attention focuses on roadway and public
transit travel, as they are a large focus of transportation planning
and engineering. The balance of the paper focuses on the implications on how planning and delivering transportation might change
going forward. COVID-19 enhanced and revealed a need for review
of how transportation is planned, designed, funded, delivered,
operated, and governed. The unprecedented changes in travel merit
an unprecedented reconsideration of how transportation professionals carryout their responsibilities going forward.

The Transportation Impacts of COVID-19
Figure 1 shows the trend of travel volumes in the first 10 months
of 2020 for passenger travel modes. The magnitude of the impact
is readily apparent by the dramatic percent declines in travel
38

Apri l 2021

i te j o urn al

volumes. These were most pronounced during the time when
shutdowns dramatically impacted activity levels. Volumes increased
as activity levels ramped up in parts of the country. The second
clear observation is the disparate impact of COVID-19 on personal
vehicle travel versus modes with group travel. For personal vehicle
travel, the traveler can control their exposure risk by controlling who
is in the vehicle and the extent of exposures and interactions getting
to and from the vehicle. Personal vehicle travel was dramatically
less impacted than airlines, public transportation, intercity bus,
and Amtrak travel. In these modes, the traveler has exposure risk
to other parties in the vehicles and higher probabilities of exposure
at terminals and stations as they interact with fellow travelers, pay
fares, handle luggage, and have other interactions, in addition to
exposure to high-touch surfaces. Use of these modes is also impacted
by the level of service provided. The dramatic initial declines in
ridership resulted in diminished service levels in many instances-
which further diminished attractiveness as a travel choice.
Figure 1 does not include several modes such as bike,
pedestrian, taxi, transportation network services, rental cars,
cruise, ferry services or freight, or commercial travel. Each of these
travel modes has been influenced by COVID-19 and merits analysis
by transportation professionals but are beyond the space available
to discuss here.
Figure 2 portrays scenarios of potential travel recovery for the
modes referenced in Figure 1. The pace and extent of recovery is
highly uncertain. It is expected that travel volumes will increase
as the fear of exposure diminishes. The pace of recovery is likely to
be influenced by the extent to which fear of activity participation



ITE Journal - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - April 2021

ITE Journal - April 2021 - 1
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 2
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 3
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 4
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 5
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 6
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 7
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 8
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 9
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 10
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 11
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 12
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 13
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 14
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 15
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 16
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 17
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 18
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 19
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 20
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 21
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 22
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 23
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 24
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 25
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 26
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 27
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 28
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 29
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 30
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 31
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 32
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 33
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 34
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 35
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 36
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 37
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 38
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 39
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 40
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 41
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 42
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 43
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 44
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 45
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 46
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 47
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 48
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 49
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 50
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 51
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 52
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ite-journal-july-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ite-journal-june-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ite-journal-may-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ite-journal-april-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_Mar2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_Jan2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_Dec2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_Nov2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_Oct2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_Sept2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_Aug2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_July2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_June2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_May2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_April2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_March2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_February2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_January2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/ITE_December2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G110939_ITE_November2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G110110_ITE_October2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G110109_ITE_September2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G108559_ITE_August2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G108250_ITE_July2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G107225_ITE_June2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G104039_ITE_May2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G104038_ITE_April2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G104036_ITE_March2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G103582_ITE_February2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G102868_ITE_January2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G100155_ITE_December2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G100154_ITE_November2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G99495_ITE_October2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G98028_ITE_September2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G97366_ITE_August2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G96287_ITE_July2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G94315_ITE_June2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G93877_ITE_May2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G93065_ITE_Apr2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G91484_ITE_Mar2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G89434_ITE_Feb2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/ITE/G86608_ITE_Jan2018
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com