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US: Impact of COVID-19 on transport ridership in Harris County [free access]

October 1, 2020

Between January and July 2020, ridership on transport services operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) declined at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.16 per cent. The maximum decline in ridership was witnessed in the light rail network (11 per cent), followed by buses (8.8 per cent). Compared to the corresponding period in 2019, the overall public transport ridership across multiple modes contracted by 32 per cent.

 

The decline in ridership can be attributed to the issuance of an emergency disaster declaration by the governments of Houston (city) and Harris County, the issuance of a Stay Home, Work Home order by the county government, adjustment of services to accommodate the decreased demand for services and availability of operators, and adoption of physical distancing measures to restrict the number of passengers per vehicle.

 

The table below provides information about ridership across various METRO services.

 

Table: Public transport ridership on METRO services (thousand passengers)

Month

2019

2020

Local Network

Park & Ride

Local Network

Park & Ride

Local Bus

Light Rail

Total

Local Bus

Light Rail

Total

January

4,908.98

1,472.97

6,381.94

708.02

5,047.22

1,522.81

6,570.03

658.86

February

4,645.46

1,499.11

6,144.57

658.71

4,801.72

1,528.79

6,330.50

645.68

March

4,897.19

1,875.39

6,772.58

384.17

3,895.19

1,277.77

5,172.97

649.79

April

4,999.74

1,568.12

6,567.86

21.58

2,502.69

554.28

3,056.97

710.06

May

5,120.81

1,434.93

6,555.74

37.46

2,707.29

691.79

3,399.08

680.86

June

4,696.80

1,443.98

6,140.78

79.63

3,022.06

757.06

3,779.12

632.48

July

4,952.70

1,593.70

6,546.40

79.04

2,896.08

757.09

3,653.17

683.69

Source: METRO

 

The figure below provides information about the change in ridership across multiple modes in 2020 compared to the corresponding period in 2019.

 

Figure: Changes in ridership


Source: Global Mass Transit Research