The Effect of Dynamic Lockdowns on Public Transport Demand in Times of COVID-19: Evidence from Smartcard Data
18 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2021
Date Written: December 15, 2020
Governments around the globe have taken different measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The city of Santiago, Chile, followed a dynamic lockdown strategy in which its municipalities were temporarily restricted depending on the degree of advance of the pandemic. We use this variation over time to study the effect of lockdowns on public transport demand, by analysing a 2019-2020 database of smartcard data of trips. These data allow us to identify public transport trips at a bus stop level,accounting for the variation of municipalities that were under lockdown in a given day. Metro and buses are analysed as individual modes and combined, allowing to estimate mode-specific factors. Using an empirical strategy that controls for timely variations, we find that dynamic lockdowns reduced public transport demand for all the public transport modes, but the average effect was larger for buses, which may be explained in part by fare evasion for this mode of transport and/or socioeconomic differences on mode usage. We also find that this effect varies over time. After the fifth week of the application of the lockdowns, its effect starts slowly vanishing, which suggests short-term effectiveness of such policy to reduce transport mobility in this case. Regarding sociodemographic effects, we find that lockdowns have a stronger impact in reducing public transport demand in municipalities with a larger proportion of elderly populationand high-income households.
Keywords: COVID-19, Lockdown, Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions, Public Transport, Smartcard
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