Some considerations on the key factors determining the reduction of public transport demand in Sicily during COVID-19 pandemic
Free (open access)
Volume 6 (2022), Issue 1
81 - 94
Tiziana Campisi, Socrates Basbas, Nurten Akgün Tanbay & Georgios Georgiadis
The development of transport services and infrastructures strongly depends on the characterization of the different types of road users who travel daily from one place to another for a specific purpose. In the case of a public transport (PT) system, it is essential to understand the dynamics of passenger choices in order to optimize the use of the service provided (e.g. location of stops, frequency of service, depar ture and arrival times of bus lines). The recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to the implementation of a number of measures, both by governments (such as social distancing) and by PT agencies (such as limiting the number of passengers on board), which have influenced the propensity to use this transport mode. Since May 2020, there has been an increase in the number of vehicles in circulation in Sicily, Italy, after the lockdown phase, which has clearly led to an interesting study of emerging behaviours and habits among different people. This paper attempts to identify the factors that led to reduced PT demand in Sicily after the lockdown period. Empirical findings indicated that the decrease of scheduled PT services, the limitations on the maximum people on board, the general fear of COVID-19 infection and the failure of PT system to properly adapt to the modified business hour environment have been important PT-discouraging factors in Sicily. These findings were not significantly differentiated among the various sociodemographic groups of travellers. This research can provide valuable knowledge for the optimization of urban and intercity PT services under extreme conditions such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It may also favour the diffusion of sustainable mobility strategies and disincentivize the use of the private car while also improving road safety and environmental cleanliness in urban and inter-urban space.
COVID-19, Italy, mobility factors, public transport, social distancing, sustainable mobility, travel behaviour, travel preferences.