“Public transit agencies suffered catastrophic blows to ridership when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March 2020. Systems saw significant declines in ridership as offices closed and Americans were urged to work from home for extended periods. But now, as we see more workers return to the office, more students return to school, and more community destinations such as restaurants, theaters, and retail stores reopen their doors, agencies from coast-to-coast are seeing a rise in ridership,” said APTA President/CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “Throughout the course of this pandemic, transit systems have provided mobility to essential workers and earned riders’ trust every day by remaining vigilant about their health, safety, and cleaning protocols as new variants of the coronavirus continued to emerge. Even though workers in many cities continue to work from home, at least on a part-time basis, we are seeing steady growth in ridership and are optimistic those trends will continue. As the latest data shows, public transportation continues to move people and shape the future of our communities.”
The COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate and significant impact on public transportation ridership. Ridership declines began in mid-March 2020, coinciding with stay-at-home emergency orders in many cities and states across the country.
Ridership declined to a low point of 10% to 40% of pre-pandemic levels in many cities. After falling to 20% of pre-pandemic levels in April 2020, ridership has recovered to more than 70% of pre-pandemic levels. The rise in ridership is reflective of transit agencies adapting to the swiftly changing needs of their communities while delivering safe, reliable service, according to APTA.