Canadians avoid public transit due to COVID-19


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Approximately 30% of Canadians report decreased usage of public transportation due to COVID-19

PHOTO: Marcin Wichary, via Flickr

As a direct result of COVID-19, Canadians are switching their travel habits from public transit to either staying at home or relying more on their cars, based on a Northstar public opinion poll, which found that 40% feel that riding public transit poses a high health risk due to the virus.

Approximately 30% of Canadians report decreased usage of public transportation—subways, buses and light rail–as a direct result of COVID-19.

“People’s movement away from public transit is likely to have long-term consequences,” Jennifer Yellin, SVP and co-lead of Northstar’s transportation practice, said in a personal statement. “The implications include lost revenue for public transit authorities, which is ultimately used to upgrade and maintain systems. There is also the potential for increased traffic and congestion on roads, which could result in increased pollution and have longer range environmental impacts. The ultimate question is whether these riders will return to public transit or stick with their cars long-term.”

Plane travel is also being impacted – more so than public transit. While approximately 40% of Canadians say they are currently taking flights less often, an additional 10% report they are less likely to consider taking a flight in the next 3-4 months because of COVID-19.


“Layering on the cancelled conferences, sporting events and concerts, corporate travel bans, and closures of popular tourist attractions, the ripple effect is likely to be significant across all aspects of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry,” said Yellin.

Nearly two-thirds of Canadians believe airports and airlines are taking the appropriate steps to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. However, they are less confident with the steps being taken by public transit agencies. Nearly 30% of Canadians don’t believe that any company associated with travel is taking the appropriate steps to reduce their risk.

Overall, nearly 40% of Canadians are very or extremely concerned about COVID-19, and 35% believe that they are at least somewhat likely to personally contract the virus.


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