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Transportation Resilience: Behavioral Impact Analysis of Disruptions and Pandemic on Public Transit

posted on 01.05.2021, 00:00 by Ehsan Rahimi
Most definitions for the Smart Cities paradigm have one common characteristic: being resilient. Transportation is associated with all aspects of urban life, including recreation, education, and business. Ensuring an efficacious, accessible, and integrated transportation system is vital to building resilience in our cities. Reduction in the transportation system's performance, as the heart of urban life, may compromise the city’s operations across several sectors, leading to large and costly disruptions. A resilient transportation system is crucial to avoid such incidents, and it can provide accessible service to the public even during disruptions, emergencies, accidents, and special events Public transit disruption is becoming more common across different transit services and can have a destructive influence on the resiliency of the transportation system. Even though transit agencies have various strategies to mitigate the probability of failure in the transit system by conducting preventative actions, some disruptions cannot be avoided because of their either unpredictable or uncontrollable nature. Utilizing recently collected data of transit users in the Chicago Metropolitan Area, the current study analyzed how transit users respond to unplanned service disruption and disclose the factors that affect their behavior. The results of the analysis reveal that a wide range of factors, including socio-demographic attributes, personal attitudes, trip-related information, and built environment, are significant in passengers’ behavior in case of unplanned transit disruptions. Our findings provide insights for transportation authorities to improve the transit service quality in relation to user satisfaction and transportation resilience. These insights help transit agencies to implement effective recovery strategies. XI We also focused on another threat to public transit and the transportation system, which is the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, we investigated risk perceptions toward using shared mobility solutions during the pandemic. It is vital for policymakers to accurately characterize the different types and degrees of behavioral changes among various social groups. Risk perception of using various modes is one of the major factors which can substantially explain individuals’ travel behavior changes during a health crisis. This study focused on public transit and ridesharing services since these options are the most widespread forms of shared mobility in the current transportation system. We utilized a recent multidimensional travel-behavior survey data conducted in the Chicago Metropolitan Area, focusing on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals’ travel behavior. According to the results, a wide range of explanatory variables is found to be significant in the risk perception model, including socio-demographic variables, built environment, health condition, virus spread, and the restriction factor. Our findings provide insights into the influential factors on being risk-averse versus risk-taker with respect to use shared mobility services during the pandemic. The findings assist policymakers in two main directions. First, the results showed that minority groups, including African Americans and extremely low-income families, were more at risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus while using shared mobility options. Such findings highlight the importance of achieving “equity” in access to a safe transportation system, especially during a health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, the results revealed that risk perception behaviors might vary based on places’ spatial characteristics, where individuals reside. Besides, the spread of the novel coronavirus might also affect the risk perception behavior in each neighbor.



Mohammadian, Abolfazl


Mohammadian, Abolfazl


Civil & Materials & Environmental Engineering

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Lin, Jane (Jie) Zou, Bo Derrible, Sybil Shabanpour, Ramin

Submitted date

May 2021

Thesis type




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