Transit Agency Responses to COVID-19: A review of challenges and opportunities for continued service delivery
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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has radically impacted public transport ridership and service provision across the country. Since the outbreak of the virus, transit agencies have had to adapt to new and rapidly evolving conditions. Many agencies modified services to reflect lower ridership levels and to ensure the safety of both riders and operators. These changes in service were guided by public health agencies, as well as major transit associations like the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) and International Association of Public Transport (UITP). Other agencies implemented precautionary measures like rear door boarding, temporary fare suspension, and reduced capacity limits to enable the safe continuity of operations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, transit agencies are having to strike a balance between providing enough transportation options for essential travel and reducing service offerings to match the declining overall demand for mobility services. Using a case study of Grand River Transit (GRT) in the Region of Waterloo, this report will document the impacts of COVID-19 on transit agencies and their responses, with a focus on modifications to services. By analyzing the challenges that transit agencies faced in modifying transit services, this report will offer guidance on the protocols and procedures that should be established for an effective pandemic response. Further, the findings of this report will help to inform discussions and guide decisions on the role and operation of public transit in future pandemic events.