CTAA report highlights transit’s community service during pandemic

July 28, 2021
While the report serves as a sort of pandemic yearbook, its call to action for industry stakeholders is to remain focused on breaking down barriers and making mobility seamless.

The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) published a report highlighting the transit industry’s actions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and offering six recommendations to leverage the partnerships forged during the pandemic and continue the flexibility many systems implemented to adapt to the shifting environment.

The report, “Public Transportation’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and How it Shapes Transit’s Future,” was authored by Stewart Mader and sponsored by CTAA. It is based on interviews with U.S. transit leaders that were conducted in May and June 2021 and details “how transit rose to the occasion, acting as a catalyst for community response.”

The report shares how transit systems quickly adapted to changing hygiene and service protocols, worked to deliver food and other essentials before helping ensure equity in vaccine access on a widespread scale.

Scott Bogren, CTAA executive director, is quoted in the report as saying agencies’ ability to remain flexible will be “the only way to truly manage the profound change and disruption brought on by COVID-19.”

“Community transit operators have always shown amazing flexibility in how they serve their communities and their passengers, and it's a skill we'll all need moving forward into the new normal,” said Bogren.

The report concludes with six recommendations to move transit forward from the pandemic:

  • Make public health a new focus area for transit;
  • Make fare payment fairer and more equitable;
  • Focus federal and state support on frequent, reliable service;
  • Strengthen hiring and career development;
  • Redesign routes and run more frequent service all day; and
  • Expand demand-response services.

The report calls the challenge of COVID-19 a generational opportunity where “public transit providers and policymakers have an unprecedented opportunity to steward these new circumstances into sustained investment and innovation.”

“We are immensely proud of the work our members have done, and continue to do, during the pandemic,” said Bogren. “This report demonstrates the hard work transit agencies have undertaken to increase access to essential services, provide reliable trips to vaccine appointments and keep their communities healthy. It is our hope that by sharing these remarkable case-studies, transit providers and industry stakeholders can discover new ways to transition into a post-pandemic world.”

The full report is available through CTAA’s website

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.