27 April 2020 - weekly summary: the impact of COVID-19 on transport and mobility

By Patrick Troy / Updated: 30 Apr 2020

Mobility in many countries is still far lower than levels seen in January and February, with reductions of 76% in Italy and 59% in the UK. Car journeys in the UK fell by 80% of their normal level on Easter Sunday, a 20% decrease compared to the already low driving levels since the lockdown measures.

Car journeys continue to fall but Google Maps data has shown an increase in UK public transport use for the first time since the start of lockdown measures. Even though public transport use is still down by 70% this is an increase on the previous reduction of 75%. This could be partly due to replacement public transport services and free travel in certain areas. In Sevenoaks, Go Coach and ViaVan are working together to replace fixed-route bus lines with on-demand bus services, allowing residents to book buses for critical journeys.

In Île-de-France public transport use has dropped to just 10% of its usual level, this has led to the Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM) reimbursing Navigo Pass, Navigo Senior and Imagine’R cardholders. This will amount to €100 million in monthly ticket sales. On top of this, €500 million every month is estimated to be lost due to other ticket sales. IDFM president Valérie Pécresse said, ‘We do not imagine that from May 11, transport will restart at 100%’ and bicycle use should ‘double’ as ‘the region is ready to draw temporary cycle paths’.

Many cities around the world are already temporarily reallocating road space to cyclists and walkers. In Philadelphia, 4.7 miles of Martin Luther King Jr Drive has been closed to cars and in Oakland, 10% of the city’s total roads are soon to be closed to cars. Berlin has taken the approach of widening existing bicycle lanes whilst Budapest has created new bicycle lanes at the edge of multi-lane roads. Brussels may implement measures to limit the speed of cars, trams, and buses to 20 km/h as well giving pedestrians and cyclists priority.

All these new measures are expected to influence future decisions in urban mobility planning, as we enter a new normal. Île-de-France has already pledged €300 million to build 650km of new cycle lanes whilst Transport for London have postponed stricter freight vehicle rules by at least four months. To effectively navigate life after COVID-19 the Recovery Task Force has been created, made up of mayors from 96 cities around the world.

A new normal might consist of more working from home, remote medical consultations, and contactless retail and delivery. Bikeitalia has proposed a Post-Covid Urban Mobility Emergency Plan with strategies to avoid the collapse of urban mobility after lockdown measures are loosened.

For more in-depth information please read the original articles on the following websites:

For a detailed list of online resources, guidance materials, and COVID-19 related transport and mobility discussions, please see the links in the Eltis article Maintaining essential mobility during a pandemic.

See also the previous weekly summaries produced:

Photo Credit: © Philip Arno Photography / Shutterstock.com - no permission to re-use image(s) without separate licence from Shutterstock.