Executive orders or public fear: What caused transit ridership to drop in Chicago during COVID-19?

Jesus Osorio, Yining Liu, Yanfeng Ouyang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic has induced significant transit ridership losses worldwide. This paper conducts a quantitative analysis to reveal contributing factors to such losses, using data from the Chicago Transit Authority's bus and rail systems before and after the COVID-19 outbreak. It builds a sequential statistical modeling framework that integrates a Bayesian structural time-series model, a dynamics model, and a series of linear regression models, to fit the ridership loss with pandemic evolution and regulatory events, and to quantify how the impacts of those factors depend on socio-demographic characteristics. Results reveal that, for both bus and rail, remote learning/working answers for the majority of ridership loss, and their impacts depend highly on socio-demographic characteristics. Findings from this study cast insights into future evolution of transit ridership as well as recovery campaigns in the post-pandemic era.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103226
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Bayesian structural time series
  • COVID-19
  • Dynamics model
  • Mobility
  • Regression analysis
  • Remote work
  • Ridership recovery
  • Telecommute
  • Transit ridership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Transportation
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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