COVID Commuting: Examining the Commute Patterns of Queen's University Employees Throughout the Pandemic

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Holmes, Keith
COVID-19 , Commuting , Sustainability , Transportation , Queen's University , Kingston , Active Transportation
The COVID-19 pandemic drastically altered commute patterns across the world. Employees started working from home, avoiding transit, and walking and biking for recreation. Queen's University in Kingston, ON is no exception to this event, and it provides an optimal case to study COVID-19's effects on a mid-sized city which have been largely excluded from academic literature. To study these effects, this report asked how and why COVID-19 changed employees' commute patterns, and how sustainable commuting (using transit, walking, and biking) can further be promoted in a post-pandemic context. The report used a two-phased explanatory mixed-methods study with an online survey and follow-up interviews with survey respondents. The results found that almost half of employees (46.7%) started working from home in 2020 compared to only 1.3% in 2019, transit experienced the largest mode share decline among all modes, working from home remains a common commute mode in 2022, and employees now travel to campus less frequently than they did prior to COVID-19. In response to these results, this report offers three recommendations for Queen's University and three recommendations for the City of Kingston to promote sustainable transportation in a post-COVID-19 context. Queen's University should preserve and promote its hybrid work arrangement for employees, conduct a parking study of its existing parking policies and supply, and increase the number of secure bike storage facilities. The City of Kingston should improve the cycling infrastructure surrounding campus, adopt the PRESTO transit pass, and better promote voluntary masking on transit.
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