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Transport preferences and dilemmas in the post-lockdown (COVID-19) period: Findings from a qualitative study of young commuters in Dhaka, Bangladesh

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At the start of the pandemic in early 2020, many cities went to complete or partial lockdown to minimize the mass transmission of COVID-19. Consequently, personal travel patterns have changed throughout the world. This study explores the transport mode preferences and associated dilemmas that commuters face in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in the post-lockdown period. We conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews of 20 young commuters residing in Dhaka. We followed a deductive reasoning approach, and the transcriptions were analyzed following thematic analysis. Findings suggest that despite the perceived high risk of COVID-19 transmission in certain modes, all commuters don’t have the ease and flexibility to switch to their preferred safer mode, with commuters trading-off between health risk, affordability and availability of suitable modes, along with other challenges. However, the country’s sustainable goals can still be achieved if proper actions, such as removing the challenges commuters face while switching to a sustainable and safe mode during COVID -19 are taken.
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Case Studies on Transport Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx
Please cite this article as: Shaila Jamal, Case Studies on Transport Policy, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cstp.2022.01.001
Available online 7 January 2022
2213-624X/© 2022 World Conference on Transport Research Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Transport preferences and dilemmas in the post-lockdown (COVID-19)
period: Findings from a qualitative study of young commuters in
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Shaila Jamal
a
,
*
,
1
, Sadia Chowdhury
b
, K. Bruce Newbold
a
a
School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, Canada
b
Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority, Government of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh
ARTICLE INFO
Keywords:
COVID-19
Travel mode
Perceived safety
Bangladesh
Global south
Qualitative study
ABSTRACT
At the start of the pandemic in early 2020, many cities went to complete or partial lockdown to minimize the
mass transmission of COVID-19. Consequently, personal travel patterns have changed throughout the world. This
study explores the transport mode preferences and associated dilemmas that commuters face in Dhaka,
Bangladesh, in the post-lockdown period. We conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews of 20 young
commuters residing in Dhaka. We followed a deductive reasoning approach, and the transcriptions were
analyzed following thematic analysis. Findings suggest that despite the perceived high risk of COVID-19 trans-
mission in certain modes, all commuters dont have the ease and exibility to switch to their preferred safer
mode, with commuters trading-off between health risk, affordability and availability of suitable modes, along
with other challenges. However, the countrys sustainable goals can still be achieved if proper actions, such as
removing the challenges commuters face while switching to a sustainable and safe mode during COVID-19 are
taken.
1. Background
The start of the pandemic in early 2020 saw governments enact a
number of different policies ranging from complete to partial lockdowns
to slow the spread of the virus responsible for COVID-19. In terms of
public transit, capacity limits were often put in place and use was limited
to essential travel only (Abdullah et al., 2020; de Haas et al., 2020),
impacting the travel patterns of the public. While transport authorities
often moved to limit capacity and use, personal fears of infection also led
individuals to avoid using public transit, with a greater preference to-
ward individual travel modes (Das et al., 2021), including walking,
cycling, motorcycles and the personal car, all of which were perceived as
safer travel options during the pandemic compared to shared trans-
portation modes (Dingil and Eszterg´
ar-Kiss, 2021; Ozbilen et al., 2021).
Conversely, public transportation was perceived as the most unsafe
mode, with a higher risk of virus transmission (Marsden and Docherty,
2021; Ozbilen et al., 2021; Shakibaei et al., 2021; Arellana et al., 2020;
Pawar et al., 2020; Kolarova et al., 2021). Additionally, COVID-19s
economic impacts may have forced commuters to rely on less costly
mode options (Litman, 2020; Zafri et al., 2021a).
During the pandemic, initiatives were undertaken to promote sus-
tainable transportation among city dwellers around the world. These
included the installation of temporary/ dedicated bike lanes, expanding
existing cycling networks, shared roads, and pedestrianized streets,
among other examples (Budd and Ison, 2020; Taylor, 2020; City of
Toronto, 2020; Buehler and Pucher, 2021). In this regard, cities in the
global north expect to see an increase in cycling and walking as people
started to avoid crowded and shared transport due to the perceived risk
of virus transmission and the inability to maintain physical distancing in
public modes (De Vos, 2020; Guti´
errez et al., 2020; Shamshiripour et al.,
2020). Although studies are ongoing, the available evidence supports an
increase in active transportation. For example, Ding et al. (2020) found
that COVID-19 had created a population-level increase in engagement in
physical activity in Australia, UK and USA. Bicycle use has, for example,
increased signicantly due to COVID-19 in different cities (Bucsky,
2020; Buehler and Pucher, 2021; Dunning and Nurse, 2021; Hensher
et al., 2021). Similarly, micro-mobility services for longer duration and
distance of trips have increased during COVID-19 in Zurich, Switzerland
* Corresponding author at: School of Earth, Environment & Society, McMaster University, 1280 Main St. West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada.
E-mail addresses: jamals16@mcmaster.ca (S. Jamal), sadiac707@gmail.com (S. Chowdhury), newbold@mcmaster.ca (K.B. Newbold).
1
0000-0002-3628-4346
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Case Studies on Transport Policy
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/cstp
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cstp.2022.01.001
Received 6 January 2021; Received in revised form 22 December 2021; Accepted 4 January 2022
Case Studies on Transport Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx
2
(Li et al., 2020). A study in three USA cities (New York, Houston, and
Seattle) saw a signicant increase in bicyclists and pedestrians during
the stay-at-home order compared to the period before (Doubleday et al.,
2021). While active transit modes have increased, public transport
ridership has decreased in countries including Hungary, Australia and
Sweden (Bucsky, 2020; Hensher et al., 2021; Jenelius and Cebecauer,
2020). Studies also reported a decrease in overall mobility (Borkowski
et al., 2020; Bucsky, 2020; Pullano et al., 2020) and increased use of
personal modes such as a car (Bucsky, 2020).
However, experiences could differ depending on the cities (Nurse
and Dunning, 2020; Dunning and Nurse, 2021), especially between the
global north versus south and developed versus developing countries.
Compared to the global north, affordability, infrastructure, and cultural
practices greatly inuence the transportation preferences of the global
south cities. Thus, switching to a safer mode to avoid COVID-19 trans-
mission might not be a straightforward choice in cities in the global
south. Income is also an important determinant of transportation choice
in developing countries, where the large low-income group rarely spend
their income on transportation (Ahmad and Puppim de Oliveira, 2016).
Still, transit users in the developing world have similar risk perceptions
to their counterparts in the developed world, with fear of exposure
decreasing public transit use (e.g., Arellana et al., 2020; Dzisi and Dei,
2020; Tirachini and Cats, 2020). However, evidence is still lacking on
whether individuals located in developing countries will switch to pri-
vate modes and keep avoiding public transport in the post-lockdown
period and/or during relaxed stay-at-home orders.
For the megacity Dhaka, Bangladesh, maintaining physical
distancing and hygiene while commuting is difcult because of the
population density (46,000 per square kilometre) (Bangladesh Bureau of
Statistics, 2014), crowding and congestion at public transport hubs, and
lack of health consciousness at the general level (Hossain et al., 2020;
Anwar et al., 2020). Until November 2021, there have been 1,576,566
conrmed cases of COVID-19 with 27,983 deaths in Bangladesh (World
Health Orgnaization, 2021). With the origin of the rst three conrmed
cases in March 08, 2020, Dhaka had become the epicentre of COVID-19
in Bangladesh with 5,842 conrmed cases and 103 deaths in April 2020,
which increased to 16,922 conrmed cases by June 1, 2020 and 21,717
by June 08, 2020 (The Humanitarian Data Exchange, 2021).
In the neighbouring country, India, Pawar et al. (2020) concluded
that although commuters perceive public transport as unsafe compared
to private transport modes, the perceived risk of virus transmission did
not inuence the actual commute pattern during the COVID-19 period.
According to the authors (Pawar et al., 2020), the underlying reason
could be the unavailability of alternative modes; however, they were
unable to provide any concrete evidence supporting their claim. De Vos
(2020) also mentioned that modal choices during COVID-19 would
vastly depend on available options. Bhaduri et al. (2020) reported an
increase in virtual activities (e.g. telework, online shopping, etc.) and
use of private modes (e.g. car, motorized two-wheelers) instead of
modes that need to be shared with strangers (e.g. bus and ride-share
options) due to COVID-19 in India. Jamal and Paez (2020) reported
similar ndings in Bangladesh - a decline in overall mobility with more
avoidance of crowded and shared transport modes and increased
walking frequency because of COVID-19. Another study by Zafri et al.
(2021a) suggested increased use of active transportation in the post-
pandemic period in Bangladesh.
After 66 days of complete lockdown (MarchJune 2020), followed by
a partial lockdown (JuneDecember 2020), workplaces were allowed to
re-open in Bangladesh. Although teleworking has become popular and
recognized as keeping individuals safe from virus transmission during
COVID-19 in many developed countries (Beck et al., 2020; Kunzmann,
2020), it is not popular in a developing country like Bangladesh. The
reason behind this is that only a few categories of jobs can adopt tele-
working considering the available technologies and both employersand
employeesattitudes towards telework (Hossen et al., 2018). Thus,
depending on their job nature, many people had to return to their
regular commute after the resumption of economic activities from June
2020. This situation raised several critical questions involving safety
perception regarding virus transmission, preference and willingness to
use safer transport modes, availability and affordability of safer trans-
port options something we will be exploring in this study through a
qualitative approach in the context of the megacity Dhaka, Bangladesh.
This study contributes to the growing body of literature related to
COVID-19s impact on transport mode choice behavior by focusing on a
city in the global south context, evidence of which unfortunately re-
mains scarce. Countries in the global south are mostly developing
countries that contain a large portion of the worlds population with
prominent income inequalities who rarely can adjust to the
transportation-related changes due to COVID-19 (Arellana et al., 2020;
Astroza et al., 2020; Huynh, 2020; Lou et al., 2020; Saha et al., 2020).
Many of them are captive to their commute modes, and due to afford-
ability and other issues, they cant switch to alternatives modes even
though they dont prefer their current modes (Lucas et al., 2016).
Based on in-depth interviews of 20 young and employed commuters,
this study explores whether any change has occurred in transportation
preferences and associated dilemmas of the commuters due to COVID-
19. The objectives of the study are twofold: First, to understand how
the commuters have transitioned from the pre-lockdown to the post-
lockdown period. Second, to identify the preferences of the com-
muters and dilemmas they face in terms of mode choice in the post-
lockdown period.
2. Study area, methods and data
Dhaka is one of the most rapidly growing megacities in the world,
with a population of approximately 21 million and an average popula-
tion density of 46,000 per square kilometers in 2019 (World Population
Review, 2020). About 18 % of Dhakas urban residents are ‘moderate
poorwhich is measured based on the expenditures for a basic food
basket and ‘non-foodallowance with 0.45 urban Gini coefcient (na-
tional-level), suggesting high income inequality among the residents
(Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), 2011; Zegras et al., 2015). From
the context of transportation, commuters have several mode options,
including bus, tempo (i.e., low-cost paratransit), private car, rickshaw (i.
e., a two-wheeled hooded non-motorized vehicle), CNG auto-rickshaw
(i.e., motorized version of rickshaws that run on compressed natural
gas), taxi, personal motorized two-wheeler, car and motorized two-
wheeler based ride-hailing services (e.g., Uber, Pathao, etc.), bicycle,
and walking (Enam and Choudhury, 2011; Wadud, 2020). In terms of
ensuring sustainability in the transport sector, under its National Inte-
grated Multimodal Transport Policy (NIMPT) 2013, Bangladesh has
initiated its ‘Pedestrian Firstprogram to ensure road safety and reduce
accident rates, with the program recommending separate lanes for bi-
cycles and non-motorized transport, improved energy efciency, and
ensuring social equity in terms of cost and accessibility (Government of
the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, 2013).
The density and limited space for new transport infrastructure
development have caused high congestion levels in Dhaka (Zegras et al.,
2015). Its travel pattern is mostly human-powered, with the majority
(63 %) of trips made by walking. Other mode shares include 20 % by
rickshaw, 10 % by bus, 3 % by car, 2 % by CNG auto-rickshaw, and 1 %
by bicycles (Hossain and Susilo, 2011). However, there is some evidence
that walking as the main travel mode has decreased, while the use of the
rickshaw has increased over the past decade (40 % of the trips were
made by walking and Rickshaw together) (JICA & DTCA, 2015). It is
worth noting that in recent years, the number of motorized vehicles,
especially motorized two-wheelers, has increased rapidly in Dhaka
because of the initiation of ride-hailing services in 2016 (Wadud, 2020),
which is creating a burden for the transport sector in implementing the
countrys sustainable transport strategies. For example, according to the
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the number of newly
registered motorized vehicles in Dhaka was 95,743 in 2015 compared to
S. Jamal et al.
Case Studies on Transport Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx
3
21,471 in 2004 indicating a 4.5-fold increase in 11 years (Siddique and
Choudhury, 2017).
We explored the research questions through in-depth semi-struc-
tured interviews of commuters residing in Dhaka. The reason for
choosing a qualitative approach over a quantitative approach is that
although quantitative methods can capture the behavior and related
shifts in travel behavior, they fail to recognize the underlying reasons
and subjective experiences behind the behavior or the changes and why
those changes have occurred (Chatterjee et al., 2012; Chatterjee et al.,
2013). On the other hand, qualitative approaches encourage re-
spondents to uncover the causalities behind their change in travel
behaviour and helps the researcher understand the underlying context
(Feng, 2017), which ultimately allows theory to be developed or rened.
As we are interested in understanding travel mode choice and associated
preferences and dilemmas during COVID-19, we chose to conduct
qualitative interviews as this a suitable approach for answering ques-
tions like what are the concerns of people about an event [in this
studys context, COVID-19]? What reasons do people have for using or
not using a service or procedure [in this studys context, transportation
modes]? What factors hinder or facilitate recovery from an event?
(Sandelowski, 2000, p 337) which is similar to our research questions.
We interviewed 20 young employed persons who were regularly
commuting during the post-lockdown period in Dhaka with a descrip-
tion of their commute mode during and in the pre-pandemic situation
(Table 1). Recruitment of the study participants and the interviews took
place between July and August 2020. During that period, the city moved
from a complete to partial lockdown. Partial lockdown meant that
essential services were open, ofces were running on either a rotation
basis or at full capacity with government mandates of following health
guidelines, while all educational institutes were closed for in-person
classes. During the partial lockdown, transit services were required to
run at 50 % of their passenger occupancy. In the context of this study,
the post-lockdown period means the partial lockdown period in
Bangladesh (JuneDecember 2020).
Participants were recruited through social media (e.g., Facebook
advertisements), personal networks, and snowball sampling (Johnson,
2014) which was the most effective recruitment method in this study.
We continued to recruit respondents until thematic saturation (i.e.,
when further observations and analysis reveal no new themes) was
reached (Green and Thorogood, 2004). Participation in this study was
voluntary, and no incentive was provided to the interviewees.
The interview guide included various questions to explore com-
muterspreferences and dilemmas of transport mode choice in the post-
lockdown period. Respondents were provided with the consent form to
sign and were informed about the studys purpose, information to be
collected, the condentiality of the information collected, and associ-
ated risks and benets of participating in the study before beginning the
interview. Respondents were asked about their travel patterns and mode
choice during the pre- and post-lockdown periods. For example: Please
tell us about your day-to-day travel, and what mode of transport do you
usually use?. If there was a change in travel patterns or transport mode,
participants were asked how they transitioned to the new travel pattern,
whether they perceived modes as unsafe, and the underlying reasons for
the change. For example, participants were asked Is there any change in
your travel pattern due to COVID 19? If yes, what are those changes?,
Can you please tell us more about it?, Are these changes going to
Table 1
Description of the respondents of the in-depth interviews.
Participant
ID
Description Commute mode before the pandemic Commute mode during the post-
lockdown
U1 26 years old, male, private sector employee. Income (monthly): BDT
30,00035,000
Bus Bicycle (bought new due to COVID-19)
U2 39 years old, male, private sector employee. Income (monthly): BDT
35,00040,000.
Bus Bus and Rickshaw
U3 25 years old, male, government employee. Income (monthly): BDT
50,00055,000.
Motorized two-wheelers Motorized two-wheelers (also has ofce
transport)
U4 29 years old, female, government owned company employee. Income
(monthly): BDT 35,00040,000.
Walk Walk
U5 28 years old, female, researcher. Income (monthly): BDT 50,00055,000. Bus CNG
U6 28 years old, female, NGO worker. Income (monthly): BDT
35,00040,000.
CNG or Bus CNG
U7 29 years old, female, private sector employee. Income (monthly): BDT
30,00035,000.
Bus Ofce transport
U8 27 years old, male, NGO worker. Income (monthly): BDT 20,00025,000. Bicycle Walk (as bicycle got stolen)
U9 29 years old, male, government owned company employee. Income
(monthly): BDT 30,00035,000.
Bus or Formal ride-hailing (e.g., Uber,
Pathao, etc.)
Informal ride-hailing (see section 3 for
details)
U10 33 years old, male, government owned company employee. Income
(monthly): BDT 65,00070,000.
Motorized two-wheelers Motorized two-wheelers
U11 29 years old, female, private sector employee. Income (monthly): BDT
25,00030,000.
Bus or CNG Ofce transport
U12 35 years old, female, household assistant. Income (monthly): less than
BDT 15,000.
Bus Walk
U13 39 years old, male, cleaner. Income (monthly): less than BDT 15,000 Walk Walk
U14 26 years old, male, private sector employee. Income (monthly): BDT
30,00035,000.
Bicycle Bicycle
U15 27 years old, male, private sector employee. Income (monthly): BDT
40,00045,000.
Bus Motorized two-wheelers
U16 33 years old, male, private sector employee. Income (monthly): more than
BDT 100,000.
Bicycle (family also owns a car) Motorized two-wheelers (family also
owns a car)
U17 35 years old, male, NGO worker. Income (monthly): BDT 25,00030,000. Motorized two-wheeler based formal
ride-hailing services
Motorized two-wheeler based informal
ride-hailing services
U18 21 years old, male, student, part-time employee and does business.
Income (monthly): BDT 50,00055,000.
Bus Ofce transport and personal car owned
by family
U19 29 years old, male, private sector employee. Income (monthly): BDT
30,00035,000.
Bus Rickshaw or CNG
U20 30 years old, male, private sector employee. Income (monthly): BDT
40,00045,000.
Bus Rickshaw or CNG
* 1 USD ~ 84 BDT.
S. Jamal et al.
Case Studies on Transport Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx
4
Table 2
Translation of codes into themes.
Themes Subthemes Thematic codes (Frequency of the codes)
1. Perceived safety of different transport modes Transportation mode - (no) Change in commute mode (20).
- Previous travel pattern: rickshaw for short distance, CNG for long distance travel
(5).
- Stopped non-essential travel (9).
- Try to use (perceived) safe transport (7).
Health risk consciousness - Remain conscious while traveling (8).
- Carry hygiene products while going outside of home (9).
Perceived risk - Difference in perceived risk by transport mode (20).
- Higher risk is perceived in modes with conned spaces (13).
- Higher risk is perceived in modes that need to be shared with unknown people
(18)
- Air-conditioned vehicles are perceived risky (4).
- Bus is perceived as the most risky (17).
- Motorized two-wheelers are perceived safe for individual use (8).
- Motorized two-wheeler based ride-hailing services are perceived unsafe (10).
Trust issue - Cant trust unknown parties regarding their hygiene practices (21).
- Lack of awareness on health guidelines/ hygiene practices among the public (24).
- Unreliability on transport operators regarding disinfecting the vehicle (13).
Crowd/ Physical distancing - Impossible to maintain physical distancing in public transport (18).
- Sometimes, buses operator dont follow health and government mandates on
social distancing (9).
- Increased number of pedestrians and hawkers in roads (7).
- Change in ofce time table to avoid pedestrian crowd (2).
- No way to maintain physical distancing in motorized two-wheelers based ride-
hailing services (8).
2. Preferences and dilemmas while using or switching to a
different transport mode
Affordability, Increased fare - Increase of bus fare (13).
- Cant afford CNG fare (10).
- Job loss among the general public (4).
- Salary reduction (7).
- Increase in daily expenses (12).
- Spending on (perceived) safe transport seems luxury / unaffordable (10).
- Currently using (perceived) safer modes, but not sure how long they can afford
(9).
- 60 % increase in bus fare during post-lockdown (6).
(Un) Availability of transport
modes
- Rickshaw is not allowed in the ofce route (4).
- Cant ride in the bus due to disability (2).
- Commute route is accident prone for cyclists (4).
- No way to go to the job location by walking due to distance (13)
- Lack of proper infrastructure (14)
Aspire to use private
transport
- Private modes are safer and convenient, but comparatively expensive (24).
Ofce transport - (no) Ofce transport facility due to COVID-19 (9).
- Feel comparatively safe while traveling while using ofce transport (4)
- Provision of ofce transport has reduced the cost of transportation for some
employees (9).
Reduced capacity - 50 % capacity in buses is allowed (11).
Informal transport - Unavailability of app-based ride-hailing services during the post-lockdown (8).
- Motorized two-wheeler based informal ride-hailing services were available (13).
Interest in motorized two-
wheelers
- Emphasis on the benets of motorized two-wheelers (e.g., speed, convenience,
parking) (6).
- Conscious about motorized two-wheelers related accidents (6).
- Safety features on motorized two wheelers (2).
- Expensive to purchase (9).
- Personal motorized two-wheelers can provide protection from getting infected (by
the virus) while traveling (5).
License - Licensing and training to ride (7).
- High vehicle registration cost (7).
Increase in walking - Started walking for longer distance (commute or non-commute) compared to the
pre-pandemic situation (7).
- If distance can be covered through walking, prefer walk rather than using shared
modes of transport (5).
- Pedestrian crowd in side-walks (5).
- Lack of proper pedestrian facilities (11).
Bicycle as a commute mode - Bicycle is environment friendly but not suitable for Dhakas road (13).
- Bicycle is not convenient considering Dhakas weather (e.g., hot, humidity, rain)
(15).
- Bicyle can be used for short distance travel (5).
- Gender differences in cycling because of the cultural acceptance (3).
- Number of female motorized two-wheeler and bicycle users are very low in
Bangladesh (3).
Bicycle storage - Lack of shower facility (7).
- No bicycle parking on streets (4).
- No bicycle storage at workplaces (7).
- Bicycle got stolen (2).
(continued on next page)
S. Jamal et al.
Case Studies on Transport Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx
5
continue after lockdown and in the post-pandemic period?, If there
was no change, do you perceive your current mode (un) safe?. They
were also asked about their concerns regarding hygiene practices, risk
perceptions and health consciousness while travelling, their perception
of safety concerning different modes during the COVID-19 phase and the
opportunities and challenges in adopting a new transport mode for the
commute. For example, What is your opinion regarding the spread of
COVID-19 while using different transport modes?, In your opinion, in
what aspects the current pandemic situation is affecting your travel
behavior?, Are you facing any dilemmas in terms of transportation
preferences?please explain, What is your opinion about using indi-
vidual means of transport (e.g., motorized two-wheelers, bicycle, walk)
considering the COVID-19 transmission risks?, Are you considering
individual means of transport as your regular transport mode in the post
lockdown and post-pandemic considering the COVID-19 transmission
risks? If yes, why? If no, why?.
The interviews lasted from 25 to 60 min and were audio recorded
with respondentsconsent. The interviews took place in Bengali (native
language) and then translated into English by the researchers (SJ and
SC). This study followed a deductive reasoning approach, and the
transcriptions were analyzed through thematic analysis. Thematic
analysis provides an entirely qualitative, detailed, and nuanced account
of data (Braun and Clarke, 2006) and reections of the actual behaviour,
attitudes, or real motives of the people by exploring what exactly
happened/ happening (Ten Have, 2003), which serve the two objectives
of the study by developing an understanding of commuters trans-
portation preferences and associated dilemmas due to COVID-19. We
preferred thematic analysis over content analysis as many of the words
in Bengali cant directly be converted into English with the same
meaning and therefore counting the word frequencies wouldnt reect
the true intentions/ feelings shared during the interviews by the re-
spondents. Instead, we provided the frequencies of thematic codes that
arise from the transcripts in Table 2.
The authors followed a rigorous process to analyze the data. First,
two of the authors (native language: Bengali) reviewed the interview
transcripts through a qualitative data analysis strategy called the
Rigorous and Accelerated Data Reduction (RADaR) technique (Watkins,
2017). RADaR is a systematic data reduction technique to transform
raw, textual data into a more manageable and user-friendly format
(Watkins, 2017). Second, we followed the thematic analysis process by
exploring interview texts, eld notes and reections. Initial codes were
generated by line-by-line coding. Then, thematic categories were
generated based on the interrelated codes. Finally, two overarching
themes emerged from the coding and categories of the interviews that is
related to the focus of the study: the perceived safety of different
transport modes in the post-lockdown period and preferences and di-
lemmas while using or switching to a different transport mode. The
process has been shown in Table 2. To maintain the rigour of the data
analysis, authors worked independently to generate the initial codes,
focused codes and categories and nally translated the ndings into
themes by working together.
3. Results
Table 1 includes a description of the characteristics of the in-
terviewees and their mode shifts during the post-lockdown period. We
made our sample as diverse as possible by recruiting respondents from
private sectors, public sectors, informal sectors, female employees,
employed individuals with low income (monthly income <15,000 BDT,
1 USD ~ 84 BDT), full-time and part-time employees.
The interviewees aged between 21 and 39 years. The sample was
collected from the young commuters intentionally as different age group
usually show different behaviors. Therefore, focusing only on a specic
age group will contribute to a more robust understanding of preferences
and dilemmas during the post-lockdown for this group of young com-
muters. There were 14 males and 6 females which is expected in the
context of Bangladesh as female participation in the workforce is
comparatively low (only 30.6 %) (World Bank, 2021). Being a tradi-
tional Muslim country, females are also not comfortable in sharing their
information to unknown individuals (see Jamal et al., 2020 for details).
Interviewees were recruited from various income groups: starting from
less than BDT 15,000 to more than BDT 100,000 per month. It is to be
noted that average individual monthly income of Dhaka is around BDT
55,000 (Power and Participation Research Centre, 2016).
In terms of transportation mode shifts, except users of motorized
two-wheelers and walking, a mode shift occurred during the post-
lockdown period for all other mode users; especially for bus users. For
example, ten interviewees were using the bus before the pandemic,
however, only one of them was using it for commuting in the post-
lockdown period. Four of the interviewees were provided ofce trans-
port by their employers. Among those who shifted their modes, two of
them started walking, two started using bicycles, four started using
Rickshaw or CNG, and two started using motorized two-wheelers in the
post-lockdown period.
Analysis of the transcript revealed two main themes: (1) perceived
safety of different transport modes, and (2) preferences and dilemmas
while using or switching to a different transport mode. A synthesis of
these two themes arise through the RADaR technique and a description
of the ndings are presented in the following sections.
3.1. Perceived safety of different transport modes
Prior to the pandemic, commuters were using transportation modes
that can be shared with other unknown individuals (e.g., bus, rickshaw,
CNG, ride-hauling services, etc.) given their affordability, availability
and convenience. With the onset of the pandemic, respondents became
risk conscious and practiced basic public health hygiene measures to
reduce the risk of transmission, including wearing masks, gloves, and
using sanitizer and avoiding non-essential trips. Further, their risk per-
ceptions of different transport modes varied by mode type, with the bus
perceived as the most unsafe means of transport. More broadly, modes
that need to be shared with unknown parties, such as ride-hailing ser-
vices (e.g. Uber, Pathao, etc.), rickshaws, and CNG auto-rickshaws were
perceived unsafe by the respondents. Participants also lacked condence
about the hygiene practices of other passengers along with the proper
cleaning and disinfection of the public vehicle:
Although I was using bus for my commute before the pandemic, [I believe
that] bus operators lack awareness in general and are not hygiene
conscious..[I believe that] they dont have the proper knowledge,
equipment to disinfect the vehicle. . [I consider the bus as an unsafe
mode as] I dont know the hygiene practice and origindestination of the
fellow passengers. U1.
Maintaining social distancing in public transport, especially during ofce
hours, is not possible in DhakaI can see that people, in general, dont
maintain the health-related precautions and hygiene practices..I cant
Table 2 (continued )
Themes Subthemes Thematic codes (Frequency of the codes)
Unsafe bicycle infrastructure - Need bicycle infrastructure (e.g., lane, interconnected network) to use them (11).
- Bicycle is perceived as safe from the disease perspective, but not safe from the
trafc accident perspective (4).
Note: The total number of times the thematic codes arise from the interviews are noted inside ‘().
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Case Studies on Transport Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx
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control the transmission risk in public transports, but in case of private
modes, I have some control over the virus transmission risks U15.
I perceive public transport as the riskiest [in terms of virus transmission].
People from different age and income groups are using it and we dont
know about the precautions they are maintaining. Even though after
maintaining highest precautions, I may get affected. .At the initial stage
of the pandemic, me and my husband were using bus for our commute.
Although we are not sure about the exact source, both of us got affected by
COVID-19 at that time. U7.
Commuters often expressed concerns over the operation of shared
transit services. For example, they noticed that bus operators were
carrying passengers at regular capacity with no measure to ensure
physical distancing and other health guidelines, as expressed by
participants:
They [buses] dont maintain the two seats for one policy [referring
50 % occupancy], which makes me disappointed and unsatised.
Many passengers dont use face masks.- U6.
Consequently, individual means of transport such as personal
motorized two-wheelers, bicycles and walking were perceived as safer
than shared modes. While participants spoke of the potential risk of
infection from a previous passenger when using a rickshaw, the open
environment of these modes was seen as safer:
Rickshaw has less number of passengers and it is not suffocated; it
seems to be less risky- U3.
Bicycle makes the rider separated from other people on the road.
The rider has less risk of virus transmission U3.
From a risk perspective, participants distinguished between the CNG
auto-rickshaws and rickshaws. In the former, although there is a barrier
between the driver and passenger, the space is conned, and riders were
concerned that the virus could be sustained inside for a long time.
Similar concerns were noted with other ride-hailing services (i.e., Uber,
Pathao), with the added concern of sharing helmets between riders for
the motorized two-wheeler-based ride-hailing services. In the case of
rickshaws, free air circulation is possible because of the open environ-
ment. CNG auto-rickshaw were seen as comparatively safer than the
public bus and air-conditioned vehicles.
Those who can afford a private mode (not for ride-hailing) such as
cars, motorized two-wheelers, and bicycles and are willing to use them
have switched to these modes considering the virus transmission risks:
Long before the pandemic, I was using bicycles for travel. I started
using bus after my bicycle got stolen. However, I love to bike.
Therefore, when the pandemic started, I bought a new bicycle and
started using it every time I travel.” – U1.
My family owns a personal car, and [before the pandemic] I was
either using the car or the bicycle for my commute. During the
pandemic, other family members were also using the car for the
safety concern [due to COVID-19], therefore, [due to schedule
mismatch], I had to buy a motorized two-wheelers for my commute
[as using bicycle for commute has become inconvenient in my new
ofce].” – U16.
Those who already own a private individual means of transport such
as motorized two-wheelers or was walking, did not change their trans-
port mode as that was the safest travel option for them:
[There is] No change in my travel pattern. I used to go by walking
and now I also go by walking as I feel that is the safest way to
commute during the pandemic” – U4.
My travel pattern remains almost unchanged [during the post-
lockdown period]. I have been using my personal motorized two-
wheelers since 2010. Sometimes, it is not convenient when it rains.
Previously, I used rickshaw or bus for such 1 % case when using
motorized two-wheelers is inconvenient. Now, I use motorized two-
wheelers for all types of daily travel, and if any inconvenience rises, I
prefer not to travel on such cases. U10.
However, switching to a suitable and safe mode becomes challenging
for those who have affordability issues:
[Before the pandemic] I used bus for my commute. CNG and
Rickshaw is never affordable to me. Previously, I used to cycle in my
home-ofce route. For some nancial reasons, I sold my bicycle.
After that, no transport mode is convenient and affordable to me
except the bus. Although, there is a health risk, I was still willing to
commute by bus. However, due to the absurd increase of bus fare
[during the post-lockdown period], I have no other choice but
walking for my commute which takes almost 2 hours each way -
U12.
3.2. Preferences and dilemmas while using or switching to a different
transport mode
Although the perceived risks have made them interested towards
safe (also perceived) modes, affordability, and availability were causing
them dilemmas while switching to their preferred modes.
In some cases, organizations provided ofce transport for their em-
ployees (total 4 cases), with commuters sharing the ride with work
colleagues. Despite this option being a shared mode and trusting that
their employer cleaned and disinfected the vehicle appropriately, pas-
sengers felt more comfortable given that other passengers were known
to them. Moreover, this arrangement reduced their commute cost, which
had increased for many of the commuters in Dhaka during the post-
lockdown period:
Right now, the ofce transport is free of costI dont know how
long they will keep providing this service. If they stop the service, I
am not going to use bus for my commute as before. I will have to use
CNG [auto-rickshaw] for my daily commute. Although I can bear the
cost while considering my safety, that will be an expensive choice for
me and for this, I have to cut budget from my other expenses.” – U11.
Although I am using my personal transport, I think the ofce
transport has become a cost saving options for many employees as
[transport] fare has increased a lot during the COVID-19 U3.
Those with ofce transport can save the commute cost, however;
someone like me without that support from the employer have to
bear the extra cost of travelling during the pandemic U17.
Overall, my transport cost has increased as I have started to use CNG
regularly instead of bus” – U6.
[Instead of bus,] I started using CNG auto-rickshaw for my commute
[during the pandemic]. Now, after two months of the post-lockdown
period, I cannot afford to continue it longer because of the cost. I am
afraid that I may need to start commuting by bus again U20.
In addition to perceived risk, availability and affordability of transit
alternatives were common barriers to shifting to a preferred mode.
While some participants wanted to shift modes to avoid shared transit
options, the bus system was often more affordable or the only available
option in some cases, especially during the post-lockdown period. While
the bus may have initially been a relatively affordable option, bus op-
erators were permitted to increase their fares by 60 % (Shovon and
Foisal, 2020) to offset the loss caused by the government-mandated 50
% passenger occupancy in the post-lockdown period. Bus users, how-
ever, complained that buses continued to run at full capacity, and were
sometimes even over capacity at the same time operators were charging
passengers the increased fare. In some cases, when buses were running
by carrying passengers at 50 % capacity, passengers had to travel two or
more stations backward to get a seat inside the bus. Thus, bus users face
health risks, economic challenges and other hassles while commuting
during the post-lockdown period:
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Case Studies on Transport Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx
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In my home-ofce route, bus operators follow the governments
mandate of 50 % capacity. Previously [before the pandemic], I used
to get on the bus from ‘XStation; now I cannot get in as by the time
the bus reaches this station, it is already on 50 % capacity. Now I go
to ‘Ystation by rickshaw [travelling backwards] to take the bus.
Previously, I had to pay BDT 20 [only bus] and now [in the post-lock
down] I have to pay a total of BDT 65 to arrive my workplace [bus:
BDT 40, rickshaw: BDT 25]” – U2 (‘Xand ‘Yhas been used instead
of the exact name of the bus station for anonymity).
Two respondents started using informal ride-hailing services. One of
the respondents (U17) was a visually impaired person who used
motorized two-wheelers-based ride-hailing services before the
pandemic for their commute. During the post-lockdown, app-based
formal ride-hailing services were unavailable, and rickshaw was not
available on their home-ofce route:
Though app-based ride-hailing services [formal ride-hailing ser-
vices like Uber, Pathao, etc.] are not available, I can nd shared-ride
informally from random motorized two-wheeler users on the road
[In this paper, we are referring it as ‘informal ride-hailing/ ride-
sharing]. If I can understand that they are interested in carrying
passengers, I go to them and ask them about their destinations. If
their destination matches mine, I have to negotiate the fare with
them. The entire system is informal.” – U9.
In terms of accessibility, buses in Bangladesh are not disabled-
friendly, and the perceived risk of virus transmission is higher. Taxis
and CNG auto-rickshaws were beyond the affordability of the respon-
dent. Thus, even though they perceive informal ride-hailing services as
highly risky, they have no other option than to use them:
At the initial days of the lockdown, I was staying home and was not
working. The type of work I do cant be done from home. When the
ofces were re-opened after the lockdown, I had to go to my ofce
There is no shift in transport mode use for me. The only change I have
is that previously I was using the formal two-wheelers-based ride-
hailing services, and now I am using the informal ride-hailing [/ride-
sharing] services.I do perceive these modes highly risky; there is
no way to maintain social distancing between the rider and the driver
in motorized two-wheelers; however, I dont have any choice.” –
U17.
Commuters spoke of switching modes and preference for using per-
sonal modes, especially motorized two-wheelers because of the
pandemic. For instance, one participant noted:
I recently bought a motorized two-wheeler considering the COVID
19 situation. Due to the physical labour and sweating, it is chal-
lenging to walk or use bicycles wearing PPE [Personal Protective
Equipements], masks and gloves, especially for long distances.
Considering this situation, using a motorized two-wheeler is an
appropriate choice for me.” – U15
Another participant noted:
I have shared transport from my ofce; however, I dont use it. I use
[my personal] motorized two-wheelers. I did not change my modeI
was using my motorized two-wheeler before the COVID-19
pandemic. I am used to it, and I love it. Although bicycles are envi-
ronment friendly, I chose to use the motorized two-wheeler. It is easy
to drive. It reduces travel time. It only takes 40 min to reach my ofce
whereas if I use a bicycle, it will be more than 2 hours U3.
Those who switched to using or previously used motorized two-
wheelers for commuting were typically able to own the vehicle, afford
the cost of fuel and licensing. Other participants noted a desire to use
motorized two-wheelers, but were unable to due to costs of owning and
operating or the higher risk of trafc collisions and injury:
From the trafc safety and virus transmission perspective, car
would be the safest option. I personally prefer to buy motorized two-
wheelers for the convenience and speed. [However,] both are unaf-
fordable to people within my income range…….its not only the
purchasing cost, but operating and maintenance can be a burden.” –
U19.
If you look into the motorized two-wheelers related accidents in
Bangladesh, you will see that most of them are fatal. [Although I wish
to buy it and I have the affordability,] [my] family will not allow me
to buy and use a motorized two-wheeler.” – U18
Right now [during the post-lockdown period], many [motorized
two-wheelers manufacturing] companies are offering EMI payments
and 0 % interest rate options and conducting promotional activities
focusing on the speed and convenience of the motorized two-
wheelers in the lockdown period. This may make many of the non-
users interested in motorized two-wheeler ownership. I have a
friend who works for ‘X. ‘Xcompany has made highest sales [of
motorized two-wheelers] in April 2020. U16 (‘Xrepresents a
prominent motorized two-wheeler manufacturing company. ‘Xis
used for anonymity).
Active transportation modes such as walking and biking remain
another option for commuting, although multiple respondents noted
that neither option was popular given the countrys weather and infra-
structure conditions. The weather condition was mentioned by 15 re-
spondents, with respondents noting the physical labour needed for
cycling and warm and humid weather conditions in Dhaka dissuading
people from commuting by bike. Moreover, people in Bangladesh are
not culturally accustomed to active travel on a regular basis (Flavia and
Choudhury, 2019; Sarker et al., 2020). Due to the pandemic, only 2
respondents started using bicycles for their commute. One commuter
has bought a bicycle for commute purposes in the post-lockdown period.
Another bicycle commuter already owned a bicycle and was accustomed
to riding bicycles for (non-) commute purposes:
I regularly use bicycle for recreational purposes. Previously, I used
to commute by bicycle as my workplace had facilities to take a
shower. After cycling, I become very sweaty. I need to take a shower
for my comfort and to feel fresh before I start my work. After joining
my current job, I stopped commuting by bicycle as there is no shower
facility in my new ofce. Although my current job location is quite
nearer to my home than the previous ofce, I still dont bike as by the
time I reach my ofce, I will be completely sweating. Rather, I use
personal motorized two-wheelers for convenience and comfort.” –
U16.
Previously I used to travel by bus; now my mode got shifted; I
bought a bicycle because of the pandemic. It is affordable and has
health benets.The fare of the buses has been doubled. If I cycle
regularly for two months, it will recover my purchasing cost of the
bicycle.” – U1.
For short commutes (24 km), commuters smoothly transitioned into
using bicycles during COVID-19. Previously, short-distance commuters
(12 km) were using rickshaws, ride-hailing services, or buses. The
perceived transmission risks of COVID-19 have made them inclined to-
wards walking and biking as they considered those modes safe.
Before COVID-19, I took a rickshaw for 510 min journey from
home to the major road. But now I feel that rickshaw is unsafe; thus, I
walk in such cases.” – U9
While there was some evidence of the increased use of bicycles
during the pandemic, use was still limited and reinforced by a number of
factors. First, the heavy trafc, lack of bicycle infrastructure in the city,
and secure storage, parking and maintenance of bicycles are considered
as hassles to many commuters, decreasing the likelihood of using a bike
to commute:
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Case Studies on Transport Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx
8
My ofce- home route is almost 11 km. If the route was short, lets
say around 5 km and there is a separate bicycle lane along the route, I
would use bicycle for my commute.” – U2.
I always use my bicycle. I only take a rickshaw when I go to the
kitchen market. There is a severe [bicycle] storage crisis in the
kitchen market and carrying grocery bags is challenging on a bicycle.
I dont have a carrier[Moreover,] my bicycle may get stolen in the
kitchen market [as there is no secure parking/ storage facility].
U1.
I was a bicycle user before COVID-19, but now I have to walk [to my
ofce] because I lost [got stolen] the bicycle. I dont want to face this
again, so I am not interested in buying a bicycle. [as there is no safe
place to store them]” – U8.
Walking provides another option for commuters, although re-
spondents who were walking during the post-lockdown period
mentioned that it was hard to maintain physical distancing in Dhakas
crowded sidewalks, especially during ofce hours. One of the com-
muters who started walking shifted their ofce timetable to avoid the
pedestrian crowds during the peak commuting hours.
I dont feel safe [while walking]safe physical distance cannot be
maintained in the sidewalks of Dhaka. People are getting unem-
ployed. Maybe because of this, the number of street hawkers has
increased.Previously [before the pandemic], I used to see two
hawkers on my way to the ofce, but now I see at least 7 hawkers in
the same space, and they also dont wear masks. U4.
4. Discussion
COVID 19 has created a consciousness of risks of virus transmission
in different transport modes among commuters and thus can affect
commuting behaviour. The key research question in the cities of the
global north is whether COVID 19 has resulted in a long-lasting shift
away from sustainable, public transit options and toward personal
commuting modes. Conversely, in Dhakas case, a city from the global
south, commuters are dealing with many obstacles in the post-lockdown
period, creating new challenges for the transportation planning sector.
The current study indicates that commuters typically need to make
choices between health risks, affordability, and the availability of
alternative modes. Even those who switched to safer modes (opting for a
perceived lower risk option) may return to using their previous transport
mode due to lack of affordability and unavailability. Those who have
alternative options available and can afford the option have already
abandoned the bus. On the other hand, the bus fare has been increased.
For many commuters, the bus is the only viable option for travel.
Therefore, to address the issue of affordability of bus services, the
transport cost should be minimized. The government could compensate
bus operators with nancial relief to overcome their loss so that the
public does not need to bear the extra burden of increased fare during
the pandemic. Critical thinking would be how the service can be sus-
tained and improved with limited transmission risks and how public
condence can be restored (Jenelius and Cebecauer, 2020; Orro et al.,
2020) while keeping the bus service available and affordable (Tirachini
and Cats, 2020). Interventions can be made in terms of strategic plan-
ning such as redesigning the network, systematic changes such as
change in frequencies and timetables of service, real time service in-
formation, and managing overcrowding through operational planning
(Gkiotsalitis and Cats, 2021; Cho and Park, 2021). A study on bus service
improvement during the pandemic in the state of Kerala, India, Cher-
anchery et al. (2021) suggested to intervene in the cleanliness, crowding
level, real time information availability and pedestrian environment as
awareness regarding virus transmission has increased among the bus
riders in India.
As the car is beyond the affordability of most commuters, an interest
in buying motorized two-wheelers to remain safe from contact
transmission has been noticed. Prices of two-wheelers are comparatively
high and are not affordable to a larger segment of Dhakas population
(Wadud, 2020). However, the sales of motorized two-wheelers have
increased recently, and manufacturers in Bangladesh have taken this
pandemic as an opportunity to increase ridership by giving lucrative
promotional offers such as 0 % interest, monthly installments, and
others (Business Wire, 2020). Before the pandemic started, registration
fees for motorized two-wheelers were reduced from BDT 20,000 to BDT
5,000 (~USD 240 to USD 60) to encourage the demand (Wadud, 2020).
Although many consider motorized two-wheelers as an accident-prone
vehicle, greater affordability could mean that a greater number of
commuters will adopt this private mode as it allows them to remain
distanced from others during the commute along with being able to
commute longer distances and save time commuting. A recent study by
Zafri et al. (2021b) also found an increased desire to purchase motorized
two-wheelers during the post-lockdown and post-pandemic periods
among the Dhaka dwellers. Bangladeshi culture also considers motor-
ized two-wheelers as an attractive transport mode, especially among the
younger generation and as compared to walking and cycling, both of
which are usually regarded as low-status modes (i.e. the symbol of
poverty) in many developing countries of the global south (e.g.,
Acheampong, 2017; Jamal and Mohiuddin, 2020). Thus, if options are
made available, many could possibly be inclined towards motorized
two-wheelers. However, policymakers should be cautious about the
uptake of motorized two-wheelers as this may reduce bus ridership,
increase congestion, the number of motorized private modes and
transport related GHG emissions in the post-pandemic period. Policies
and strategies should address how to prevent this transformation to-
wards motorized two-wheelers and provide suitable, sustainable and
affordable alternatives and encourage sustainable transportations for
commuting.
Reecting recent work by Jamal and Paez (2020), there is some
evidence that walking as a commuting choice had increased in
Bangladesh during COVID-19. Consequently, this should be taken as an
opportunity to change behaviours by promoting active travel. The ad-
vantages of active travel such as safety, environment-friendly, cost-
effectiveness, and health benets need to be highlighted, especially at
the mass level and break the social stigma (low-status mode) associated
with active travel. If people see other people including political repre-
sentatives, celebrities, high-ranking government ofcials using active
modes for their day-to-day purposes, they will be more likely to change
their travel behaviour toward sustainable options. This is the strategy
that Amsterdam, Netherlands adopted along with strong grass-root level
advocacy on social homogeneity while promoting cycling at the mass
level during 19751995s (Kuipers, 2013; Oldenziel and de la Bruh`
eze,
2011). As the respondents have mentioned a lack of storage and shower
facilities, employers should be encouraged to provide their employees
with active travel-friendly facilities such as bicycle storage, shower fa-
cilities and, if possible, incentives for active commuting. The study by
Spotswood et al. (2015) found that the lack of showering and bicycle
storage facilities at the workplace is the leading cause of not using bi-
cycles for commuting. Workplace active travel interventions have
proven to be effective and increase the number of active commuting in
different parts of the world (Goodman et al., 2013; Petrunoff et al.,
2016). Guzman et al. (2020) proposed increasing motorized vehicle
parking charges at workplaces as an effective strategy to encourage
active commuting. We expect that these workplace policies will be
adopted and implemented, and therefore, increase the number of active
commuters in Dhaka.
Several factors inuence the adoption of cycling and walking at the
user level. Bicyle use among females is also limited due to cultural
norms, with Bangladeshs conservative society often not accepting of
female bicyclists (e.g., Jamal et al., 2020; Sarker et al., 2020). From the
policy perspective of the developing countries, there is a lack of un-
derstanding at the decision-making level on the gender imbalance in
cycling culture, negative societal views, local needs and priority,
S. Jamal et al.
Case Studies on Transport Policy xxx (xxxx) xxx
9
weather conditions, interconnected and appropriate infrastructure, and
road safety and security (Koehl, 2020). The current study also identied
similar barriers and challenges that commuters face while switching to
an active mode. Thus, our suggestion would be to recognize these mass-
level diverse challenges at the decision-maker level and then implement
problem-specic strategies to solve the issues. It would be more effective
in addressing and removing commutersbarriers and challenges in
switching to active modes and increasing the number of active com-
muters in Dhaka in the post-lockdown and post-pandemic periods.
5. Conclusion
This paper has explored the transport mode preferences and associ-
ated dilemmas that commuters face in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in the post-
lockdown period. Although this analysis is based on a city in the
global south, our ndings may be generalizable to other cities with
similar socio-cultural structures, economic proles and mobility be-
haviours. Our study indicates that commuters lack condence about
maintaining physical distancing in public transport which echoes the
ndings by Thomas et al. (2022) in Mumbai, India. This study has three
key takeaways regarding preference and associated dilemmas in
commute mode choice. First, commuters tried to avoid modes that are
perceived to put them at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 during the
early stages of the pandemic and lockdown. However, after a few
months, they may return to use those (perceived) unsafe modes because
of nancial burden and service unavailability. Our analysis suggests that
it is not easy for them to switch to a safer transport mode mainly because
of unaffordability and unavailability of alternative modes in their
commute route. Also, in terms of ofce transport, interviewees are not
sure how long the service will be provided. Second, there is a frequent
dilemma and trade-off among health risk, affordability and unavail-
ability while choosing commute mode in the post-lockdown period.
Third, the study highlights additional challenges, including commute
distance, inconvenience, lack of cycling and walking infrastructure,
street crowds, bicycle storage, cultural acceptance, the public image of
active commuting, perceived risk of trafc accidents, weather condi-
tions, etc. as limitations to the uptake of other modes of transport.
Finally, limitations of the current study are noted. First, the study
only focuses on the young commuters and their commute mode choice.
It would be valuable to explore the mode choice of other specic de-
mographic groups such as students, businessmen, women, children,
older adults and for other purposes except for work. The study indicates
that no substantial shift towards sustainable modal choice in terms of
commute will occur in the post-lockdown period unless effective policy
measures are taken. However, our sample consists of a small number of
commuters. Although many qualitative studies with an approximately
similar number of respondents reected the realism (e.g., Beir˜
ao and
Sarseld Cabral, 2007; Guell et al., 2017; Nguyen-Phuoc et al., 2018;
Zarabi et al., 2019), quantitative study is necessary to explore the extent
of modal shift and factors that could inuence this change during the
post-lockdown period which can be a direction for future research.
Shifting towards sustainable commute modes in Dhaka may not be as
promising as in global north cities. It might take time to reach a sus-
tainable transport system considering the status quo. However, the
countrys sustainable transport goals can still be achieved if proper ac-
tions are taken to address the diverse needs, such as removing the
challenges commuters face while switching to a sustainable and safe
mode during this COVID 19. Besides, policymakers need to be cautious
about the bus ridership and take necessary measures to regain public
condence so that the ridership doesnt go down in the post-pandemic
period because of perceived contagion risks.
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Shaila Jamal: Conceptualization, Data Collection, Data Analysis,
Writing preparing main draft, review & editing. Sadia Chowdhury:
Data Collection, Data Analysis, Writing review & editing. Bruce
Newbold: Writing review & editing.
Acknowledgement
The authors would like to thank House of Volunteers Foundation,
Bangladesh and Transcope for their support while conducting the study
and acknowledge the cooperation and contribution of the interviewees.
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... Thus, a better understanding of how the health concerns impact their mode choice behavior in the new normal situation is necessitated to understand patterns of the future and what the focus of future policies and emerging modes should be (Md. S. Abdullah et al., 2021;Jamal et al., 2022aJamal et al., , 2022bJamal & Paez, 2020;Paul et al., 2021;Shaik et al., 2021;Zafri et al., 2021). ...
... As the concern for affordability rose in the new normal, the commuters need to balance between their concern for health, Levels of Service (LOS) and affordability. In pre-COVID times, the factors affecting mode choice of the commuters of Dhaka City depended on commuters' socio-economic characteristics and LOS attributes, however, the recent studies showcase the paradigm has shifted greatly due to COVID-19 as health concern emerged as a greater factor than before (Enam & Choudhury, 2011;Jamal et al., 2022a). As a result, for successful planning and development of the upcoming urban transportation systems of Dhaka, it is necessary to understand how the pandemic altered mode choice behavior along with the quantification of the paradigm shift in the balance between factors. ...
... Based on these research, Revealed Preference (RP) survey method was deemed to be most appropriate for this study. Similarly, the study area was limited to Dhaka Metropolitan Area due to the availability and exposure of travelers to online social media which are typically used for conducting online surveys in Bangladesh (see Arellana et al., 2020;Jamal et al., 2022a;Jamal & Paez, 2020;Pawar et al., 2020;Shakibaei et al., 2021). Lastly, the case study of Italy with its full lifting of lockdown akin to Bangladesh, with similar vaccination rates leading to lower chance of future lockdowns and adaptation to new normalcy, warranted the need for a before and after lockdown analysis, instead of existing literature that focuses on before and during lockdown (Torrisi et al., 2021). ...
... Overall, the findings of our study are in alignment with other studies that also focused on exploring firm and consumer concerns regarding commuting during and after COVID-19. Studies largely indicate safety and hygiene as major concerns of passengers in various contexts by exploring as many ways as possible to avoid contagion in transportation such as ride-sharing motorbike taxis, other ridehailing options including buses and rikshaw (Choi & Shi, 2022;Hetherington et al., 2021;Jamal et al., 2022;Loa et al., 2022). In these unprecedented times when paranoia and fear reside in everyone's mind, these technical assurances will help to reduce the side effects of uncertainties on consumer minds as well as on businesses that need prompt recovery (Hendrickson & Rilett, 2020;Rothengatter et al., 2021). ...
... These businesses not only favor economic benefits but also sustainable environment goals by encouraging fuel-efficient practices such as ride-sharing (Dai et al., 2022). Ridesharing business supports the idea of sustainable development goals by making responsible consumption and production through lesser consumption of fuel (Dai et al., 2022;Jamal et al., 2022;SDGs, 2020). Hence, the perpetuity of ridesharing cab service firms is important for sustainability goals and the present research would contribute toward meeting this goal. ...
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The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. The constant increase in the rise of cases and deaths has compelled nearly all countries to impose lockdowns and other restrictive measures. The restrictions on travel and other non-essential activities have raised some serious business concerns for ridesharing, carpooling, and cab rental services. This study aims to identify, analyze, and prioritize the commuters’ barriers to App-based Ridesharing Services during COVID-19’s first and second waves, and potential ways of adaptation for an anticipated third wave in Indian contexts. The hierarchy of barriers is established using the responses from sixty respondents and their analysis using the multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) technique, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). ‘Safety from contagion’ was found to be the most significant and strong factor followed by the desire for personal space and personal security as the most important inhibitors for not choosing ridesharing services during COVID-19. Socio-economic status and the lack of reliability of service were not given much importance by the respondents. The current and potential implications for sustainable business and the environment are also discussed.
... Lockdowns to reduce citizen movement [12]; • The need to maintain social distance [13]; • Closing of many key public utilities [14]; • Switching to remote work mode [15], Which significantly influenced the change of transport mobility and the existing habits of the society around the world. Scientists noted that the outbreak of the pandemic therefore brought many economic, social, and environmental challenges to the shared mobility industry [16]. ...
... Such misguided innovations in the case of shared mobility systems include, for example, the implementation of an insufficient number of vehicle fleets with high demand, the implementation of electric vehicles in the absence of the necessary infrastructure, or a change in the type of provided services by the transition from rentals per minute to typical subscription systems. In contrast, a business model based on open innovations should be characterized by five main terms, which include [9][10][11][12]: ...
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The shared mobility services market is growing and changing very rapidly. Many novelties are introduced to the systems, ranging from improvements to the services already offered to services referred to as innovative. Since the following years are to bring significant development of mobility as a service (MaaS) systems, data sharing, and cooperation on the mobility market, the article is dedicated to check whether the current business models of the industry are ready for the open innovations implementations. The article aimed to analyze the business models of shared mobility systems along with their presentation in the form of CANVAS models and to investigate whether the models contain aspects of open innovation. Moreover, the article presents its own value-added open business model prepared for the whole shared mobility market. The paper also identifies a set of open innovations that can be implemented by all types of shared mobility operators. It proposed the basis that operators can use when developing their own open business models. The developed research is an original contribution to filling the research gap concerning the approach to open innovation by operators of all types of shared mobility services available on the market. The results show that car-sharing service providers are the biggest opponents of open innovation. On the other hand, the most ‘open’ systems are bike-sharing services. The conducted research may support operators in the process of transforming their businesses into more accessible for users. It also helps to develop the open innovation concept to create more sustainable shared mobility systems along the lines of collaborative economy assumptions.
... However, some events such as pandemics could result in shifts away from high density travel modes (e.g., public transit or carpooling) and into single occupancy vehicles (SOVs), altering the number of vehicles on the road network [15,16]. Works [17][18][19] analyze the daily vehicle commuting patterns in different ways, and works [20][21][22][23] analyze the commute behavior change under COVID-19. Our work take one step forward and asks the important question: how will the shifts in commute patterns impact the road traffic? ...
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This work considers the sensitivity of commute travel times in US metro areas due to potential changes in commute patterns, for example caused by events such as pandemics. Permanent shifts away from transit and carpooling can add vehicles to congested road networks, increasing travel times. Growth in the number of workers who avoid commuting and work from home instead can offset travel time increases. To estimate these potential impacts, 6-9 years of American Community Survey commute data for 118 metropolitan statistical areas are investigated. For 74 of the metro areas, the average commute travel time is shown to be explainable using only the number of passenger vehicles used for commuting. A universal Bureau of Public Roads model characterizes the sensitivity of each metro area with respect to additional vehicles. The resulting models are then used to determine the change in average travel time for each metro area in scenarios when 25% or 50% of transit and carpool users switch to single occupancy vehicles. Under a 25% mode shift, areas such as San Francisco and New York that are already congested and have high transit ridership may experience round trip travel time increases of 12 minutes (New York) to 20 minutes (San Francisco), costing individual commuters $1065 and $1601 annually in lost time. The travel time increases and corresponding costs can be avoided with an increase in working from home. The main contribution of this work is to provide a model to quantify the potential increase in commute travel times under various behavior changes, that can aid policy making for more efficient commuting.
... the use of cars and taxis (Jamal et al. 2022;Labib et al. 2014).  Corruption makes it difficult to ensure implication of laws and compliance (Sarker et al. 2017). ...
... Despite government mandates and protocols, maintaining recommended physical distancing is very difficult in a densely populated country like Bangladesh (Jamal, Chowdhury, and Newbold 2022). Given the worldwide spread of COVID-19, there is an expectation that a modal shift towards individual means of transportation such as private cars, motorized twowheelers, bicycles, and walking will occur (Abdullah et al. 2021;Dingil and Esztergár-Kiss 2021;Thombre and Agarwal 2021). ...
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Based on in-depth interviews of 17 key informants in Dhaka, Bangladesh, this paper explores the reasons behind the observed modal shift toward motorized two-wheelers that occurred with the COVID-19 pandemic, along with its implications. Analysis of the key informants' perspectives revealed that individuals' inclination towards motorized two-wheelers occurs because of maintaining physical distance, lack of walking and bicycling infrastructure, the high social status associated with motorized two-wheelers, and brand promotion. The implications of this modal shift include increased traffic congestion, GHG emission, and traffic incidents. As interviewees suggest, mass communication, understanding users' perspectives, and promoting equity concepts are needed for a modal shift towards more sustainable options.
... The pedestrian network is a new structure in the urban area that consists of cohesive streets and provides suitable features for walking. The personal, social, economic and environmental benefits of walking are well-documented: walking reduces traffic congestion and pollution; it is beneficial to individuals' health and well-being; it provides economic benefits; it has an impact on real estate prices and enhances the sociability and vitality of urban spaces [31][32][33][34][35]. For these reasons, the concept of pedestrian network has been placed at the center of various urban policies and has been a main topic for urban designers and planners over the last decades. ...
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In cities today, the digitalization of mobility is one of the most crucial tools that link each single mobility service providers (e.g., ride sharing, public transportation, air travel, etc.) to users. Based on the smart pedestrian network model, the purpose of this study is to initially provide the requirements towards the digitalization of a pedestrian network model and subsequently to draft an institutional framework towards the effective implementation and management of pedestrian mobility that will develop/create a pedestrian network as a new structure in the city. The methodology is applied in three phases, with three separate approaches: "desk approach" for a data gathering standard that is knowledge-based and connected to walkability; a "digitalization approach" for citizen and stakeholder participation in policy co-creation; and a "business approach." A business approach is defined as a set of operations that takes one or more types of input and produces a customer-valued outcome. In this case, customers are citizens and the business approach by applying a digital system is assessing policies and finding/defining an optimized combination of shared applicable/effective policies to implement the pedestrian network. By boosting an innovative linkage of these three phases, digitalization of the pedestrian network has great potential to improve the walkability planning process and therefore to create more sustainable and livable urban spaces.
... In addition, we found that the low-income group is less likely to perceive high risk of viral transmission in terms of using public transport. One of the possible reasons could be unaffordability or lack of alternative modes for them to travel as highlighted by Jamal et al. (2022). Therefore, they kept traveling by public transport during the pandemic. ...
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COVID-19 pandemic has caused adverse impacts on different aspects of life around the globe, including travelers’ mode choice behavior. To make their travel safe, transportation planners and policymakers need to understand people’s perceptions of the risk of COVID-19 transmission in different travel modes. This study aimed to estimate mode-wise perceived risk of viral transmission and identify the factors that influenced the perceived risk in Bangladesh. The study used a five-point Likert scale to measure the perceived risk of COVID-19 transmission in each travel mode. Using ordinal logistic regression models, the study explored the factors that influenced the perceived risk of COVID-19 transmission. The study found that people perceived a very high risk of viral transmission in public transport (bus), moderate risk in shared modes (rickshaw, auto-rickshaw, ridesharing), and very low risk in private modes (private car, motorcycle/scooter, walking, cycling). Such high-risk perception of viral transmission in public transport and shared modes might lead to a modal shift to private modes, which would worsen urban transport problems and undermine sustainable transportation goals. The study also found that socio-economic factors (gender, age, income) significantly influenced perceived risks in all travel modes. Contrarily, psychological factors (worry, care, and trust) were significant only for public and shared modes, but not for private modes. Lastly, travel behavior-related factors influenced perceived risk in shared and private modes.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed socioeconomic vulnerabilities around the world. After fighting the coronavirus for more than 1 and a half years now, the countries are recovering from the epidemic with the help of cutting-edge medical research. The policymakers are implementing stimulus packages for post-pandemic economic recovery. However, sustainable "green recovery" plans are yet to get adequate attention. Sustainable investment in green industries can create green jobs, promote a low-carbon economy, and foster long-lasting economic growth in the post-pandemic world. COVID-19 affected countries with emerging economies call for even more focus on such investments. In Bangladesh, the bicycle industry - a growing low-carbon industry - has been showing promising potential for growth since the beginning of the pandemic. Both the local and global markets of Bangladeshi bicycles have seen substantial growth during the epidemic. In this paper, we analyze the potential of the Bangladeshi bicycle industry as an effective green recovery driver. We conduct semi-structured interviews with relevant experts and professionals, analyze their opinions, and perform a "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)" analysis. The analysis reveals valuable insights regarding post-pandemic sustainable economic and environmental recovery which will be beneficial to the policymakers of Bangladesh and similar developing countries.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused incredible impacts on people’s travel behavior. Recent studies suggest that while the demand for public transport has decreased due to passengers’ inability to maintain physical distance inside this mode, the demand for private automobile and active transport modes (walking and cycling) has increased during the pandemic. Policymakers should take this opportunity given by the pandemic and encourage people to use active transport more in the new normal situation to achieve sustainable transportation outcomes. This study explores the expected change in active transport mode usage in the new normal situation in Bangladesh based on the data from a questionnaire survey. The study finds that 56% and 45% of the respondents were expected to increase travel by walking and cycling, respectively, during the new normal situation. On the other hand, 19% of the respondents were expected to do the opposite. The study further identifies the factors influencing the expected change in travel by active transport modes during the new normal situation by developing multinomial logistic regression models. Finally, this study proposes policies to increase active transport use beyond the pandemic and ensure sustainable mobility for city dwellers and their well-being.
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There has been widespread interest in the potential for the significant behavioural and policy adaptations rendered necessary by Coronavirus to act as a catalyst for radical longer term policy change in transport. However, this body of work to date has been limited in its consideration of how such policy change might be brought about. Translating the lessons from the Coronavirus response to other ongoing strategic challenges such as decarbonisation requires analysis of what the pandemic has revealed about processes of policy formulation and how institutions responsible for policy implementation actually work. This paper explores the extent to which rapid policy change has actually been possible in the transport sector in England and Scotland during the pandemic, and key examples of how such change has been both achieved and blocked. Two rounds of interviews with senior stakeholders from across the transport sector were undertaken in June and November 2020 to inform the analysis. We find that the pandemic has accelerated some policy commitments that were already planned, but at a time of huge stress on the whole of government and its partner delivery organisations, the potential to deliver radical policy adaptation was limited. However, Coronavirus is recognised as being a potentially path-changing disruption to existing trajectories in terms of the adaptations to business practices, industry structures, ways of working and the public finances. Paradoxically, whilst recognising these uncertainties, decision-makers are yet to deviate from pre-pandemic planning assumptions and policy plans and this risks missing the opportunities to steer how those changes unfold.
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The impacts of COVID-19 on the transportation system have received attention from researchers all over the world. Initial findings reveal that patronage of public transport has gone down, while the use of active transport has increased in general. To the best of our knowledge, no study has focused on the pandemic’s effects on motorcycle mode, let alone in the context of an Asian city. We attempted to fill this void in literature by investigating if COVID-19 has influenced people to purchase motorcycles and determining the factors driving their intentions. The study is based on an online survey of 368 people in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The study found that around 46% of the respondents were expected to increase travel by motorcycle during the post-lockdown period. About 21% of the respondents were also expected to do the opposite. Around 31% of the respondents planned to purchase a motorcycle by August 2021, and the results indicated that the pandemic has influenced more people to purchase motorcycles compared to the pre-pandemic period. The study further identified factors that influenced the respondents’ plan for purchasing a motorcycle during the post-lockdown period applying the binary logistic regression. Based on the findings of the study, policy measures were proposed for controlling the growth of motorcycle numbers and increasing the use of active transport modes as its alternative, and consequently, helping to achieve sustainable transportation outcomes.
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Introduction The global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a great impact on all areas of the everyday life, including travel behaviour. Various measures that focus on restricting social contacts have been implemented in order to reduce the spread of the virus. Understanding how daily activities and travel behaviour change during such global crisis and the reasons behind is crucial for developing suitable strategies for similar future events and analysing potential mid- and long-term impacts. Methods In order to provide empirical insights into changes in travel behaviour during the first Coronavirus-related lockdown in 2020 for Germany, an online survey with a relative representative sample for the German population was conducted a week after the start of the nationwide contact ban. The data was analysed performing descriptive and inferential statistical analyses. Results and Discussion The results suggest in general an increase in car use and decrease in public transport use as well as more negative perception of public transport as a transport alternative during the pandemic. Regarding activity-related travel patterns, the findings show firstly, that the majority of people go less frequent shopping; simultaneously, an increase in online shopping can be seen and characteristics of this group were analysed. Secondly, half of the adult population still left their home for leisure or to run errands; young adults were more active than all other age groups. Thirdly, the majority of the working population still went to work; one out of four people worked in home-office. Lastly, potential implications for travel behaviour and activity patterns as well as policy measures are discussed.
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COVID-19 outbreak affected the daily lives of people around the globe, and authorities proposed numerous interventions to make activity participation and traveling safer during the pandemic period. This study investigates the potential implication of such interventions on executing physical distancing on public transport in Mumbai, India. The study reviews the demand-supply gap of public transport during the pre-pandemic and pandemic period and evaluates the challenges in practicing physical distancing with the short-term interventions, such as lockdown guidelines at different phases and long-term interventions, such as flexible work arrangements, on public transport. The study findings indicate that physical distancing on public transport is difficult to achieve at peak hours, even with the very high travel restrictions and lockdown measures, unless flexible work arrangements are implemented. The flexible work arrangements, such as staggered working hours and work from home, can significantly reduce peak-hour demand and total excess demand without altering the supply pattern. The study can guide in constituting transport and broader policy decisions, including developing low-risk public transport for the post-pandemic period.
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The paper aims to investigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the perception of travelers and identify new policies and intervention areas for improving urban bus service. This was carried out based on the perception data collected from travelers in the years 2018 (before pandemic) and 2020(in post lockdown scenario). Data was collected from the state of Kerala, India, and Importance-Satisfaction Analysis (ISA) with fuzzy c-means clustering was carried out to identify improvement areas for both scenarios. Results show a substantial increase in the number of priority areas as compared to the pre-pandemic scenario. Bus service attributes such as cleanliness, crowding level, and pedestrian environment emerged as new intervention areas of bus service during the pandemic. This is a clear reflection of the increased awareness of travelers about the prevailing pandemic scenario and the need for improvement in attributes related to social distancing and hygiene. The higher priority to information related attributes of bus service clearly shows the need for improvement in such attributes for the safe planning of trips during the pandemic. The work also estimated desired service levels of quantitative attributes to enhance the satisfaction levels of users. An evaluation of five bus routes in Kochi based on the desired levels shows the underperformance of attributes such as headway, punctuality, and crowding level. While the findings are city-specific, the methodology and experience may be adopted to enhance the service quality of buses and other public transport.
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The unprecedented shock triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant impact on public transportation services, travel behavior and mode choice preferences. Increasing risk of virus contagion in shared travel modes might result in a systemic shift from public transport to car commute. Such a shift causes increased congestions, emissions with a burden on the existing infrastructure. Given the urgent need of reconsideration of transport in a post-COVID world, this study presents insights into the possible shift from public transport to car commute due to the coronavirus crisis, potential factors influencing the mode shift, with emphasis being also laid on suitable strategies for promoting public transport use in the future world. Based on an online questionnaire survey conducted in India, results of logistic regression model indicate that commuters’ socio-economic characteristics such as age, gender and monthly income tend to significantly influence mode switch preferences. In addition, trip characteristics including travel time, overcrowding and hygiene are strongly associated with mode shift preferences from public transport to car use. Commuters’ perceptions on several strategies for promoting public transport have also been assessed, which will indeed pave the way for the formulation of post-COVID transport policies. In essence, efforts need to be directed towards restoring users’ confidence and trust by providing a safe, secure and healthy environment to the public transport users.
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The present study focuses on the relationship between the Covid-19 pandemic and mobility patterns. By using data from an international survey, transport users' socio-demographic features and travel characteristics during the pre-pandemic and pandemic time are analyzed. Afterward, the pandemic commuting travel behavior is modeled. The multinomial model shows that public transport users are 31.5, 10.6, and 6.9 times more likely to change their commuting transportation mode than car users, motorcycle users, and walkers, respectively. The results demonstrate that travel distance and income level are the two most influential factors in pandemic decision-making. These results confirm the reflection of spatial-economic inequalities during the pandemic. Active modes, motorcycle, and personal car are perceived by the participants as the least risky urban transportation modes during the pandemic. Thus, a considerable growth in individual transportation modes, up to 26% increase for commuting and up to 15% for leisure activities, can be recognized.