Transportation and Infrastructure

Local leaders across the country are grappling with how to keep transportation systems resilient during the COVID-19 outbreak without creating new opportunities to expose users and employees to the virus. Below are examples of how cities, states, and transit agencies are working to manage services while keeping everyone safe.

Harvard Ash Center
Mar 23, 2020 · 12 min read

The below are listed in order of publication, starting with the most recent. Last updated Thursday, June 18 at 9:48 AM. Postings below do not convey endorsement of any particular organization or opinion contained in links.

As European cities emerge from quarantines, bicycles are playing a central role in getting the work force moving again.

No coronavirus clusters have been found on subways, trains and buses in those countries. Does that mean public transportation is less risky than we thought?

The head of the second-largest public transit system in the U.S. warns that full bus and subway service may not return to the U.S. capital for a full year.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have put a temporary halt on our mobility, but it has not steered us away from building more connected and resilient communities.

The Centers for Disease Control is still encouraging financial incentives for single occupancy car commutes — and failing to address the barriers to other modes.

Last week Urban Mobility Company held its first virtual workshop in partnership with Moovit on the impact that the COVID-19 crisis is having on public transportation, and how operators can guarantee a safe and efficient rider experience as cities begin to come out of lockdown.

The bus is equipped with AI-enabled thermal testing facility, airtight separate cabins for doctors and technicians, and facilities for contactless testing of patients.

An air-travel corridor between Australia and New Zealand could be trialed within weeks, a key test of how international flights worldwide can resume while the coronavirus threat remains.

To stay protected from Covid-19 on buses, trains and planes, experts say to focus more on distance from fellow passengers than air ventilation or surfaces.

NACTO’s new design and implementation resource provides the most updated street design approaches cities are using.

The city is finding creative solutions to mobility challenges.

VanMoof has seen demand surge of its electric-powered bicycles.

The agency, in partnership with the Science and Technology Directorate, is planning a solicitation to streamline airport security without compromising safety.

With stay-at-home orders emptying city streets, residents of Boston are getting a glimpse of a possible future in which the car is no longer king.

With commuters looking to get back to the office and still adhere to social distancing rules, the U.K. government is fast-tracking changes to transport laws to allow scooters in one of Europe’s most congested cities.

A phased recovery plan for the Metro system in the Washington, D.C. area doesn’t envision a quick return to normal levels of service. Across the country, transit agencies are figuring out how to balance safety and service.

China and Europe will accelerate EV plans, while the U.S. taps the brakes.

Workers traveling between the hours of 1 and 5 a.m. daily will no longer have to book for-hire vehicles through the MTA website; there’s now an app for that.

Shared rides are suspended, but this is another option to get a cheaper ride somewhere.

Johnson County, Kan., part of the Kansas City metro region, will experiment with more on-demand, flexible transit options as it evolves beyond the pandemic and traditional service structures.

Will car traffic surge as lockdowns end, or will millions of Americans decide to bike, walk, or work from home permanently? Emerging research offers some hints.

The streets had been closed temporarily to through traffic to provide more space for people to walk and bike at a safe distance apart during the coronavirus pandemic.

UK transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced emergency funding to enable local authorities to pay for “pop-up” cycling and walking infrastructure to enable physical distancing during lockdown.

Residents in the French capital are turning to bikes reduce their infection risk while getting around

Cities aim to make urban centres more bike-friendly in an effort to encourage communters to avoid virus risks on public transport

A New York City councilmember’s plea: We can’t reopen the nation’s largest city without safe public transit. But it won’t be easy, or cheap.

Cities around the world have been at a standstill, trying to stop the spread of COVID-19. But with lockdown measures gradually lifting, places like Brussels are trying a new climate-friendly approach to mobility.

The Shared Mobility Summit zeroed in on all the many ways urban mobility has been rocked by the novel coronavirus. The consensus among experts seems to be that the crisis will force long-term changes.

Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London said the UK capital needs to prepare for a possible 10-fold increase in cycling and five-fold increase in walking when lockdown restrictions are eased.

The robots use ultra-violet light and form part of the airport’s new disinfecting strategy to increase cleanliness and help to restore confidence in travelling.

Yes, it’s crucial that we claim parking lots and driving lanes from cars. But we’ve got to think beyond patio season.

School districts across the country are sending buses with WiFi to neighborhoods with limited broadband access to help students connect for full-time distance learning.

Thanks to a new pilot program more people will be able to enjoy the outdoors while maintaining proper social distancing.

No form of public transportation has lost more riders in the coronavirus crisis than the trains that carry suburban workers to urban jobs. Will they ever recover?

San Diego is one of the latest cities to join the Slow Streets movement, repurposing certain public roads to create more outdoor space and encourage safe walking and cycling.

As Californians grow accustomed to 6-foot social distancing, the coronavirus could have a chilling effect on the state’s efforts to build more apartments near public transportation to solve its housing crisis.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics may be able to forecast the United States’ economic recovery.

Lime Scooter representatives announced a relaunch in Nashville in an effort to support the transportation needs of essential workers who still need to get around during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Southern California city announced a “slow streets” pilot program, repurposing public streets to create more outdoor space for walking and exercise while maintaining appropriate social distancing measures.

Streetopia UWS Director Lisa Orman offers strategies on how Departments of Transportation, and NYC in particular, can think about reimagining cities and public spaces after the global pandemic.

As cities around the world prepare to ease restrictions on lockdowns due to the global pandemic, city leaders must make transportation adjustments to avoid a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Apple has now added and prioritized COVID-19 testing sites to its Apple Maps app across the U.S., including Puerto Rico, when a user opens the app. Additionally, Apple has made its Mobility Trends data available to governments to help transportation authorities and local officials get a better sense of the impact of the pandemic.

As European cities make plans to slowly reopen, city officials are making adjustments to allow for social distancing on normally dense metropolitan areas and to cut car use in the future. The adjustments include: temporary bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and priority zones for cyclists and pedestrians among others.

Guidelines on how public transit systems in major metropolitan cities which have seen a massive decrease in ridership can maintain services during the pandemic and after.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has produced a “pattern book” for local policy makers who aim to reduce car use in urban areas, in an attempt to continue the pattern of air pollution reduction as car travel has dropped massively due to the COVID-19 quarantine.

A network of infectious disease epidemiologists at universities around the world working with technology companies to use aggregated mobility data to support the COVID-19 response.

Hard-hit Milan may be leading the way in reimagining how transit and commuting patterns could change as cities emerge from coronavirus shutdowns.

Services currently offered include meal and grocery delivery, essential supplies delivery and relocation services for homeless individuals, among others.

New Zealand has become the first country to provide funding to make tactical urbanism into official government policy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Targeted partnerships with rideshare providers for on-demand service can be an effective tool as public agencies begin to look at ways to recover from the current health crisis.

Milan is to introduce one of Europe’s most ambitious schemes reallocating street space from cars to cycling and walking, in response to the coronavirus crisis.

As cities aim to become more self-reliant and resilient, they are taking steps to improve food security, live more sustainably.

The California city isn’t the first to experiment with car restrictions in the coronavirus pandemic, but its plan to discourage drivers is the most extensive.

The city in California will automatically activate pedestrian signs when the traffic light changes.

Unlike cities around the world, metro Atlanta’s skies haven’t noticeably changed in a time of much less driving

Even as funding and fares dry up, transit agencies across the country continue to provide service for front-line responders and those serving essential functions during the COVID-19 crisis.

As the world stays home in quarantine in an effort to flatten the curve in response to the novel coronavirus, cities have observed environmental benefits to the lack of traffic and subsequent infrastructure changes to mitigate the spread of the virus — like automating walk signals are crosswalks so pedestrians don’t have to touch the button. Some city officials maintain that these changes should be permanent after the pandemic.

Though the crisis is far from over, the Shared Use Mobility Center has put together ways mobility and transportation might be dramatically changed for the better as the crisis eases and we move into a post-COVID world.

Transit unions call for aggressive action to protect subway, bus, and other transit workers who are being diagnosed with the virus at alarming rates.

Past pandemics have led to radical changes in infrastructure to fight disease, including plumbing, sewage systems, and zoning laws — what will this current crisis mean for cities of the future, and how will we change based on what we learn?

Free demand response software is being offered to transit agencies to help ease transitions from fixed to flexible schedules and other mobility challenges as ridership remains low.

Behaviors developed in response to social and physical distancing and the changes in our mobility patterns are likely to have permanent effects once the crisis has passed — how can those in transportation anticipate and prepare for these changes and meet consumers new needs?

Looking beyond conceptualizing public transit as a business, the drop in ridership but continued service demonstrates how dependent cities are on transit, even in a world with many other options.

Local public transit network in Taunton, MA is encouraging rear-door only boarding by making fares optional.

As commutes shorten and the number of average daily trips dwindle, cities are using uncrowded streets as an opportunity for upgrades, repairs, and changes aimed at making it easier for essential workers and others to get around safely and quickly.

The existing database, which tracks key indicators from hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care facilities across the country to monitor the spread of infectious diseases, is now an area of focus for upgrading and expansion.

In cooperation with Bloombeg Philanthropies, the National Association of City Transportation Officials has launched the Transportation Resource Center, an online hub for real-time tracking of city response to COVID-19 across the United States.

In response to the city shutting down roads for “non-essential travel” and public transit becomes limited, a local company is making e-bikes available to health care professionals to allow them to still get to work efficiently and safely.

A toolkit from the National Association of City Transportation Officials with strategies to protect road users and maintain transit and mobility during this crisis.

A UK carpooling app is pairing dedicated drivers with vulnerable people to make trips for necessities on behalf of those at particular risk when leaving home to help them limit exposure.

Using geospatial tracking, this new program tracks patients moving to and from hospitals and other health care facilities to notify drivers when they have transported passengers who test positive for COVID-19.

HKS Taubman Center’s David Zipper, a visiting fellow working on urban mobility and transportation, argues that in the wake of plummeting ridership transit agencies are better off removing fares entirely. No longer requiring transit payment minimizes interactions between drivers and passengers.

COVID-19 Public Sector Resources

A resource center, curated by the Ash Center at Harvard…

COVID-19 Public Sector Resources

A resource center, curated by the Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School, for public sector practitioners to highlight cases, teaching, policy solutions, and other examples of how governments are responding to the outbreak

Harvard Ash Center

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Research center and think tank at Harvard Kennedy School. Here to talk about democracy, government innovation, and Asia public policy.

COVID-19 Public Sector Resources

A resource center, curated by the Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School, for public sector practitioners to highlight cases, teaching, policy solutions, and other examples of how governments are responding to the outbreak