Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel behavior in Istanbul: A panel data analysis

Sustain Cities Soc. 2021 Feb:65:102619. doi: 10.1016/j.scs.2020.102619. Epub 2020 Nov 23.


The COVID-19 pandemic, which was reported in early January 2020 in China and spread rapidly around the globe, will certainly remain as one of the most impactful disruptive events of the 21st century. To contain the spread of the virus while awaiting a vaccine, countries applied different approaches from simply giving advice on personal hygiene and applying progressive measures to total lockdown. This paper aims to investigate the impacts of the pandemic on travel behavior in Istanbul, Turkey, through a longitudinal panel study conducted in three phases during the early stages of the epidemic and pandemic. The paper reflects the travel behavior evolution during the development of the outbreak resulting from residents' self- regulation and governmental measures, distinguishing travel for commute, Social/Recreational/Leisure (SRL), and shopping activities, as well as use of different travel modes based on various socio-economic characteristics. Due to the application of the social distancing of at least 1.5 m, closure of numerous non-essential venues, encouraging teleworking and distance education, job losses and cancellation of all social gatherings in Istanbul between the second and third phase of our data collection, the transition in travel activity pattern and transport mobility appears to be quite extreme, particularly for commuting and SRL trips.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; Istanbul; Public transportation; Teleworking; Travel behavior.