A public transportation user in a wheelchair boards a bus.

New Project: Understanding Post-COVID Safety Concerns, Perceptions and Preferences of Transit and Shared Mobility Users in Minnesota

Transit ridership dropped significantly last year in Minneapolis, Duluth and other cities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the metro area, transit ridership declined 53%, according to the Metropolitan Council. 

Transportation agencies are interested in how to draw riders back to transit and shared mobility services as communities reopen after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted—a return critical to the long-term viability of multimodal transportation and the further development of robust regional transit and shared transportation systems. 

MnDOT recently began a research study that will help agencies develop strategies to recover ridership.  

“We want not just to understand what medical science is telling us we should do, but are there other things we can do as well that might make people more comfortable with transit and shared mobility?” explained Elliott McFadden, who coordinates MnDOT’s Greater Minnesota Shared Mobility Program.


To identify the most promising safety and communication strategies for bringing back users, the research team will: 

  1. Develop an inventory of safety protocols that transit agencies and ride- and vehicle-sharing services deploy to protect riders from COVID-19 infection and spread. 
  2. Survey Minnesota residents to understand safety concerns, preferences and perceptions toward existing and potential safety protocols for using transit, shared mobility, and connected and automated vehicles. 
  3. Analyze results to understand variations in safety concerns, perceptions and preferences by geography, socioeconomic status, trip distances, durations and transportation modes, as well as by gender, age, race, ethnicity and other attributes. 

Project Details

Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.

To receive email updates about this project, visit MnDOT’s Office of Research & Innovation to subscribe.

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