The COVID-19 epidemic has affected public transport in various cities worldwide, including Guwahati city in India, where a 59.09% decline in the ridership of city bus services occurred in autumn 2021. The present work aims to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on travelers' perception and identify the parameters associated with the user's dissatisfaction for improving bus service in Guwahati city. In addition, the study also estimated the revenue loss of bus services due to this pandemic. This was carried out based on survey data from travelers in pre-covid (January 2019) situation, unlocked with 50% seating capacity (November 2020), and unlocked with 100% seat capacity plus some limited amount of standee (January 2021) situation. Results showed an increase in the number of users' priorities in post covid compared to pre covid conditions. Factors such as comfort, fairness, reliability & convenience, and safety are the priority areas of users' pre covid. Whereas bus service attribute such as vehicle condition & hygiene emerged as an additional priority of users post covid. Unfortunately, the bus service in the city performed poorly in terms of hygiene, leading to the shifting of the user to other modes of transport. The poor condition of the vehicles is another major factor that made the users to discard the bus service. This led to huge financial losses of the public transit authorities. The cost analysis result showed that the city bus operators faced a financial loss due to the COVID19 outbreak. The average wage of the drivers reduced from 780 Rs./day to 339 Rs./day in the first unlock phase and 476 Rs./day in the second unlock phase. The present study discusses the introduction of the new route in the city, regular cleaning, regular servicing of the buses, and other recommendations to improve the bus service in Guwahati city.
Keywords: Bus service; COVID19; Cost analysis; Guwahati; Perception.
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