May 18, 2023 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM (ET)
About the Webinar:
The COVID-19 emergency declaration of March 2020 caused a significant decrease in travel. Whereas highway travel rebounded rather quickly in the United States, transit use has not fully returned and may not fully return in the short or medium term. This report discusses the results from a survey of travelers’ stated use of transit before, during, and after the pandemic, focusing on identifying factors associated with their change in transit use, including stress and fear of COVID-19. The study included data collection in three experiment phases. In the first phase of data collection, the survey was distributed via several online platforms while the data for the second phase of the experiment was collected at Texas A&M’s Human Behavior Laboratory (HBL). The third phase included a virtual reality (VR) experiment conducted at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Both the second and third phases included skin conductance measurements to measure the participants’ stress levels. Approximately 41% of frequent transit users reduced their use of transit after the pandemic declaration in March 2020 and up to 45.5% stated they were less willing to use transit in the future even after the pandemic is over. However, our detailed analysis of their stress, fear of COVID-19, and response to other key questions indicated a lower range of approximately 15% to 25% of the respondents will not use transit as much in the future due to COVID-19. Respondents who stated a lower use of transit during the pandemic also had higher average stress levels and higher fear of COVID-19. During the VR experiment, seeing large groups of persons waiting at a bus stop and having to share the confined space inside the bus with a large group of transit riders, in addition to the presence of some riders coughing, significantly increased the stress levels of some participants.
About the Presenters:
Mark Burris, Ph.D., is a professor of civil engineering at Texas A&M University and a research engineer with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. His main area of interest is traveler behavior in response to pricing, particularly congestion (or value) pricing. He has served in an evaluation and monitoring role for managed/express lane projects around the country. He has also led many studies and surveys on how travelers will react to innovative tolling strategies and the costs and benefits associated with those projects. He recently completed a 6-year term as chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Transportation Economics Committee.
His research has provided a better understanding of traveler behavior in response to tolls and helped to improve our ability to predict this reaction. Due to his experience in this area, he was asked to serve on the NCHRP panel overseeing a research project on “Estimating Toll Road Demand and Revenue” and was invited by the FHWA to attend the “Expert Forum on Road Pricing and Modeling”. Prior to joining Texas A&M in August 2001, he was a senior research associate at the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) in Tampa, Florida. + View more
Professor and Associate Director of Graduate Studies and Research of the Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) Alberto M. Figueroa Medina, Ph.D., P.E., is the current director of the Civil Infrastructure Research Center (CIRC) and UPRM associate director for the National Institute for Congestion Reduction (NICR). His academic preparation includes a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in civil engineering from UPRM, and a Doctor in Philosophy (Ph.D.) in civil engineering with a specialization in transportation and infrastructure systems from Purdue University. Dr. Figueroa’s research interests include highway geometric design and road safety modeling, the analysis of road user behavior and performance using driving simulation and virtual reality simulation tools, and the evaluation of the performance of transportation systems. He has administrative experience in the operation of public transportation services and the establishment of transportation public policy in Puerto Rico as a president and general manager of the Metropolitan Bus Authority (MBA) and as the first executive director of the Puerto Rico Integrated Transit Authority (PRITA) during the 2013—2016 term.