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How did travel mode choices change according to Coronavirus Disease 2019? Lessons from Seoul, South Korea

Moon-Hyun Kim, Jiwon Lee and Tae-Hyoung Tommy Gim

International Journal of Urban Sciences, 2021, vol. 25, issue 3, 437-454

Abstract: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic is believed to have substantially changed travel mode choices. While current urban transit policies and plans aim at higher public transit ridership, the negative perception that transit is unsafe increases in line with the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) because of its higher risk in cases in which so-called 3C conditions are met: crowded areas, close-contact settings, and closed places. Thus, this study empirically examines how the perception of urban spaces changed by COVID-19 and how it influenced the choice of travel modes, accordingly, in the Seoul Metropolitan Area, South Korea. A structural equation model presents that changes in individual cognition and positive perception of policy changes during COVID-19 changes their perception of multi-use facilities negatively compared to before the COVID-19 outbreak. The negative perception is found to result in changes in travel mode choices by decreasing public transit ridership. Analytical findings show that intrinsic utility (i.e. risk perception) is revealed as a major determinant to understand travel mode choice. Also, in relation to the limitations of the current metropolitan transit system, the findings provide policy implications in the aspect of preventive measures and promoting micro-mobility for post-COVID-19 transit.Highlights The behavioural change under the pandemic is caused by fear of infection.Risk perception on public transit is affected negatively due to COVID-19.The increased risk perception leads to a reduction in public transit use.Risk perception is a major determinant to understand travel mode choice.Promoting micro-mobility will enhance the city's resilience during a pandemic.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1080/12265934.2021.1951823

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