Coronavirus Effects on the Global Transportation System

As the coronavirus continues to move across the globe, its effects on shared transportation modes and freight shipping are becoming more apparent.

March 9, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


New York MTA

gabriel12 / Shutterstock

The coronavirus is affecting global transportation networks, with public transportation and air travel hit especially hard. The impacts in Chinese cities portend what could be coming to other parts of the world as the virus continues to spread.

"In Shanghai and Beijing, which are not subject to quarantine, ridership on their metro systems are down 85 percent and 91 percent, respectively (Check out the full data table here.) Intercity rail trips have dropped more than 80 percent. Domestic airlines cut 13,000 daily flights within the country and some desperate ones are offering $4 fares," writes Paul Lewis.

Research suggests that public transit is not where people are infected, and the work and social sites that people use transit to reach are the concern. Still, transit agencies are preparing systems, says Lewis. "[They] are investing millions of dollars for masks, signage, and disinfectant supplies to enable continue operations during a potential outbreak. Private companies are also implementing policies to ensure the safety of their employees and customers."

The coronavirus pandemic is also highlighting the interconnectedness of the global supply chain as freight shipping delays affect manufacturing around the world. "Such disruptions will have short term effects on the ability to sell products, but in the long run could force companies to rethink supply chains exposed to epidemic risks," adds Lewis.

Friday, February 28, 2020 in Eno Center for Transportation

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