How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the use of ride-sourcing services? An empirical evidence-based investigation for the Greater Toronto Area

Transp Res Part A Policy Pract. 2022 Jan;155:46-62. doi: 10.1016/j.tra.2021.11.013. Epub 2021 Nov 16.

Abstract

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the nature of day-to-day life in cities worldwide. In the transportation sector, COVID-19 appears to have impacted modal preferences. In particular, people seem to be less willing to use modes where they may encounter strangers (such as public transit) and modes that involve coming into contact with shared surfaces (such as ride-sourcing). Given the transformative impact that ride-sourcing services had on urban mobility before the pandemic, it is crucial to understand the effects of COVID-19 on the use of ride-sourcing moving forward. Using data from a web-based survey, this study combines descriptive analysis with the application of a two-stage ordered logit model framework to investigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the utilization of ride-sourcing services in the Greater Toronto Area, including how often ride-sourcing is used and the earliest stage of the pandemic that a person would consider using ride-sourcing. Generally speaking, the use of ride-sourcing has decreased since the start of the pandemic, however, there are also people who are using ride-sourcing more often than they did before the pandemic. The results indicate that the perception of risk, the tendency to take precautions when leaving home, and socio-economic factors influence the earliest stage of the pandemic where a person would consider using ride-sourcing. Overall, it appears that ride-sourcing usage will gradually increase as restrictions are lifted; however, it is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels until COVID-19 is no longer considered a public health threat.

Keywords: COVID-19; Ordered logit model; Pandemic; Perception of risk; Ride-sourcing.