Impact of COVID-19 behavioral inertia on reopening strategies for New York City transit

Ding Wang, Brian Yueshuai He, Jingqin Gao, Joseph Y.J. Chow, Kaan Ozbay, Shri Iyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected travel behaviors and transportation system operations, and cities are grappling with what policies can be effective for a phased reopening shaped by social distancing. A baseline model was previously developed and calibrated for pre-COVID conditions as MATSim-NYC. A new COVID model is calibrated that represents travel behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic by recalibrating the population agendas to include work-from-home and re-estimating the mode choice model for MATSim-NYC to fit observed traffic and transit ridership data. Assuming the change in behavior exhibits inertia during reopening, we analyze the increase in car traffic due to the phased reopen plan guided by the state government of New York. Four reopening phases and two reopening scenarios (with and without transit capacity restrictions) are analyzed. A Phase 4 reopening with 100% transit capacity may only see as much as 73% of pre-COVID ridership and an increase in the number of car trips by as much as 142% of pre-pandemic levels. Limiting transit capacity to 50% would decrease transit ridership further from 73% to 64% while increasing car trips to as much as 143% of pre-pandemic levels. While the increase appears small, the impact on consumer surplus is disproportionately large due to already increased traffic congestion. Many of the trips also get shifted to other modes like micromobility. The findings imply that a transit capacity restriction policy during reopening needs to be accompanied by (1) support for micromobility modes, particularly in non-Manhattan boroughs, and (2) congestion alleviation policies that focus on reducing traffic in Manhattan, such as cordon-based pricing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Transportation Science and Technology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Multi-agent simulation
  • Public transport
  • Reopening strategies
  • Travel behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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