How Public Transit Agencies Are Adjusting to the Realities of the Pandemic

U.S. public transit agencies have been reacting to news and developments on the fly, as sudden declines in ridership, loss of revenue, waves of protest, and an uncertain long-term prognosis continues to disrupt day-to-day operations.

Read Time: 3 minutes

July 2, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Public Health

eskystudio / Shutterstock

Planetizen has been monitoring the rapidly evolving reality of public transit during the pandemic—at the very beginning, the sudden decline in public transit ridership was one of the earliest indications of how quickly the coronavirus would disrupt daily life in the United States, and how those disruptions were likely to have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable Americans. 

In early June, as budget season approached and New York City and the Northeast emerged from the terrible scale of the pandemic in that part of the country during April and May, it seemed like transit agencies might be preparing for the new normal, and ensure a prominent role in the economic recovery to come. There was even evidence that early ideas about high risks of infection on public transit were unfounded. First, a wave of protests across the country, and then a sudden spike in infections in new parts of the country and in larger numbers than ever before, have complicated the process of getting back to business.

While tracking the news at the "Coronavirus and Transportation" tag throughout the pandemic, Planetizen has also been gathering news on public transit in the past month to get an idea about what's coming next in the process of responding and recovering to the pandemic. Here's how transit has been making new in the past month, as the United States appears perched on the brink of some of the worst weeks since the outbreak.

Funding Crisis

Service Adjustments

For future coverage of the pandemic's evolving impact on public transit service, check in with the American Public Transportation Association's "Public Transit Response to Coronavirus or COVID-19" page.


James Brasuell

James Brasuell is a writer and editor, producing web, print, and video content on the subjects of planning, urbanism, and mobility. James has managed all editorial content and direction for Planetizen since 2014 and was promoted to editorial director in 2021.

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