What’s “normal” anyway?

Assessing the pandemic’s long-term effects on travel behaviors

We led an industry conversation to discuss how COVID-19 has affected travel behaviors and attitudes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how Americans travel. The challenge for transportation planners over the past two years has been understanding which of these changes will persist and which will prove to be transitory. Snapshots of air travel, transit ridership, or percentage of employees still working from home provide valuable information. However, to be useful to planners, the data must also reveal trends. Longitudinal “pulse” surveys, like those conducted by the US Census Bureau, have helped capture such trends in the context of employment, food and housing, and wellbeing. Other surveys have more narrowly focused on health, for example.

RSG’s COVID-19 Transportation Insights Survey, which began in May 2020, has collected data from over 27,000 respondents to date. The data has revealed the pandemic’s lasting impact on households’ travel behaviors in the United States. The survey is unique given its duration and the breadth of questions asked of respondents. This webinar presented key findings from our data collection and analysis as well as additional related research as of January 2022. It revealed insights into how the pandemic has affected health, energy, and travel behaviors as well as what trends will shape the post-pandemic travel landscape. The webinar included recommendations and insights on inclusive strategies for surveying the public as travel recovers.

Missed the webinar live? Watch the recording below.

The panel comprised a diverse group of industry experts, academics, and researchers.

RSG Panel Headshots_RPendyala

Ram Pendyala, PhD

Pronouns: he/him

Ram Pendyala, PhD, is a professor of transportation systems in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. He also serves as the Director of TOMNET, a USDOT-funded Tier 1 University Transportation Center. His expertise lies in the study of activity-travel behavior and understanding human mobility choices. He is currently involved in a three-wave nationwide panel survey data collection effort funded by the National Science Foundation to understand the evolution of behavioral patterns and activity-mobility choices in the wake of the pandemic. Learn more & connect »

RSG Principal Johanna Zmud

Johanna Zmud, PhD

Pronouns: she/her

Johanna Zmud, PhD, is a Principal at RSG. She is a travel behavior researcher who has been at the forefront of applying survey science and qualitative methods to the gathering of data on past, current, and future travel behavior to inform transportation planning and policymaking. Johanna is particularly interested in the intersection between travel behavior and health. Johanna has also researched the effects of transformational technologies on underserved populations, developed new performance measures for on-demand mobility services, and independently evaluated national connected vehicle pilot demonstrations. Learn more & connect »

RSG Panel Headshots_JLynch

Joann Lynch

Pronouns: she/her

Joann Lynch is a Senior Consultant at RSG. She leads transportation market research projects across the United States and Canada. Joann specializes in the design and management of transportation studies using RSG’s smartphone-based GPS travel survey app, rMove™. In 2020, she led a series of COVID-19 surveys for the New York City Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Council in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to help planners understand how the pandemic was changing travel. Learn more & connect »

This webinar was sponsored by RSG. 
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