Covid-19: What impact on mobility?

Explore • Pulse #7 • 7 MIN
By Valérie Lachenaud

A dramatic drop in routine journeys, fear of exposure to the virus on public transport, new aspirations and a longing for a change in lifestyle — the coronavirus pandemic has shifted priorities, compelling transport operators to reinvent their businesses.


4 billion 
People worldwide subject to travel restrictions
Source: Deloitte, September 2020.

Huge variation in ridership levels

Source: Citymapper. Data at 8 February 2021 compared with 8 February 2020.

France: a textbook case?

Routine travel in France has yet to return to pre-Covid (February 2020) levels, even after the easing of lockdowns. During the first lockdown in March 2020, travel volumes fell 40%, climbing back up to 80-90% of normal levels once restrictions were lifted. Similar figures were reported after the lifting of the second lockdown in December.

The recovery elsewhere has been weaker. Travel in London, for example, has never got above 60% of pre-pandemic levels. Even greater variations have been seen in North America. In Montreal, travel didn’t get above 35% of normal, perhaps because fewer people worked from home in Canada. In France, 20% of people worked remotely during the first week of the second lockdown, compared with 40% in the UK.
Source: Happydemics – Le Point survey.


Fall in revenue for public transport operators worldwide in 2020.
Source: UITP, 2020.

2% to 5% 
Increase in business reported by shared mobility platforms like Blablacar.
Source: Deloitte, April 2020.

Drop in ridership during the first lockdown in France’s 10 main cities.
Source: Transition et Énergies, 2020.

Remote Working

Of employees with a higher education qualification in Europe worked from home.
Source: Eurofound report, 28 September 2020.

Of those without a higher education qualifi cation worked from home.
Source: Eurofound report, 28 September 2020.


Of people want their personal lives to change significantly, rather than returning to pre-Covid-19.

Say they want the world to change significantly and become more sustainable and equitable, rather than returning to how it was before the pandemic.

Responses by country to the question about a more equitable and sustainable future

Source: World Economic Forum/Ipsos global survey of 21,000 adults in 27 countries, September 2020.

Pandemic changes the meaning of work

More French people would be willing to take a pay cut if they could work less.
Source: Obsoco, June 2020.

Of people in France aspire to a better work/life balance.
Source: Keoscopie, 2020.

Desire for new pastures

1 in 3
French people wish they lived somewhere else.
Source: Obsoco, June 2020.

1 in 4
French people dream of living in a less densely populated area.
Source: Keoscopie, 2020.

Green aspirations

Of French people say the pandemic has changed how they view the environment.
Source: Keoscopie, 2020.

Say their relationship with nature will change.
Source: Keoscopie, 2020.

Tapping into people’s environmental aspirations

Of people say they’ll use public transport more than before coronavirus.
Source: 2020 mobility survey, UTP (French rail and public transport union).

The environment ranks second in the list of reasons why French people use public transport, ahead of convenience — meaning green criteria are more important than economic factors.
Source: Keoscopie, 2020.

Heightened environmental concerns are an opportunity for public transport. Going forward, this could influence how people choose to travel and impact the modal mix. For operators, this game-changing shift in priorities is a chance to communicate more on the environmental benefits of public transport, such as the fact that public transport emits between 2 and 60 times less CO2 per passenger mile than private cars, depending on the mode.
Source: Keoscopie, 2020.



The level of risk of coronavirus transmission in a metro train, over a period of up to 70 minutes, or 80 minutes on a bus. The level of transmission risk is 1% over longer periods.
Source: University of Colorado, 2020.

The chance of contracting Covid-19 on a train. The figure is 0.075% if you sit on a seat immediately after an infected person.
Source: Oxford Academic, March 2020.

Percentage of French people who realised during the first lockdown that walking and cycling is actually easier for local journeys.
Source: Forum Vies Mobilités, 2020.

Percentage of city dwellers who say they opted for private motor vehicles (cars or motorbikes/scooters) to avoid the risk of contamination in 2020.
This figure rose to 88% in rural areas. What’s more, 74% of French people say they still prefer their car to any other means of transport.
Source: Opinion Way survey at the end of the first lockdown.

Of French public transport users say they regularly get off a few stops early and walk the last part of the journey.
Source: Keoscopie, 2020.

Of passengers say they trust their public transport network to ensure safety in the future.
Source: 2020 mobility survey, UTP (French rail and public transport union).

Initially, the pandemic caused a big slide in trust among passengers. Over time, however, the panic subsided. Mandatory face coverings, the provision of hand sanitiser and other physical distancing rules helped reassure people there was less risk on transport than they thought.

More effected of operators

Will safety measures be maintained once the pandemic is behind us? No one can tell, but one thing is certain: passengers have high expectations when it comes to safety. So it’s likely some precautions will stay in place, such as mandatory face masks for people who are ill or at risk.
In addition, transport operators will probably have to ramp up their strategies for reducing network saturation (such as higher frequencies and apps that allow passengers to avoid crowded trains and buses). Physical distancing and better ventilation are other key issues that need addressing.

Source: Keoscopie, 2020.

The Keoscopie Observatory, key insights into social trends

Overseen by Keolis’ Market Research and Strategy department, the Keoscopie Observatory was set up in 2007 to analyse changing lifestyles that could potentially impact mobility trends to help authorities shape the future of mobility. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Keoscopie has conducted several online surveys in partnership with Harris Interactive. These were carried out in four waves (June, July, October and December 2020) across a representative sample of more than 4,200 people in France.


RAPHAËL DE BENGY – Avancer ensemble (Moving forward together)

“I come from a rural community where people tend to be wary of others who seem different. So I’m fascinated by the ambience in the metro, where people from very varied backgrounds forget what separates them and move forward together. They don’t know each other; only the journey brings them together. My aim with these photos is to show how fortunate we are
to live alongside each other.”

All pictures and captions in the series can be seen here:
And here:


Keoscopie International: global mobility insights

From Montreal to Brisbane, Paris to Doha, London to Beijing — all around the globe, people are using public transport, though differently in different places. Private cars are a feature of the landscape, to a greater or lesser extent, as are new forms of mobility like ride sharing, electric bicycles and self‐service scooters. Lifestyles, working habits and smartphone ownership also vary from one country to the next. By analysing all these statistics, Keoscopie International, a global study produced by the Keoscopie observatory, provides insights into mobility worldwide with some surprising findings.

Pulse #4 6 min

Shared mobility rebooted

We’ve seen a radical shift in travel habits in recent months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown that ensued. Cities around the world have been exploring new avenues in response to stricter hygiene requirements and the need to rebuild passenger confidence. Here’s a look at five inspiring trends that have shaped up.

Pulse #6 5 min