COVID-19 changed travel behaviour in the GTHA, says Habib

head shot of Khandker Nurul Habib

Professor Khandker Nurul Habib

In May 2020, UTTRI associated faculty Professor Khandker Nurul Habib initiated five new research projects to explore the the impacts of COVID-19 on the travel demand and travel behaviour of residents of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

He speaks about this research in the article “Travel-related COVID spread in Ontario may be worse than we realize” published by TVO, December 23, 2020, which discusses the possible spread of COVID-19 through travel from places of lockdown – like the GTA – to neighbouring areas where shopping malls are open to in-person traffic.

Habib’s research revealed that during the initial wave of pandemic infections and restrictions, most people in the GTHA reduced their daily travel activities by about 50 per cent. And people who were making trips were making them later in the day and longer in distance. He explains:

“People wanted to go out of Toronto, where COVID was not as severe,” he posits. Another possible reason for increased travel distance is that less traffic on the roads meant people could go farther than usual in less time. “If you lift constraints, people will make more trips,” he says.

Professor Habib adds that further studies will take place this spring.

Link to the article “Travel-related COVID spread in Ontario may be worse than we realize,” TVO, December 23, 2020.


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