On 24 April 2020, TU Delft and NS started a large-scale study of the impact of the coronavirus crisis on people’s travel behaviour. As from today, some 100,000 NS passengers will be approached to take part. The intelligent lockdown has caused the number of train passengers to drop to some 7% of the normal number over the past few weeks. When day-to-day life gradually resumes, more and more people will start using public transport again. As a result of the coronavirus measures, trains can only carry 20 to 25% of the number of passengers they usually transport, so we need to know more about the wishes and travel intentions of passengers.
TU Delft researcher Danique Ton and her colleagues from the Smart Public Transport Lab and the Active Modes Lab are working on this project. “It’s great to see that we can use our scientific methods to gain insight into possible changes in people’s travel behaviour. We can use the knowledge we acquire to help NS and the public transport sector as a whole to change their practices in line with the ‘new normal’.”
Tjalling Smit, member of the Board of Directors of NS: “NS is ensuring that the Netherlands is accessible, even in the current difficult circumstances. The coronavirus measures mean that we can carry fewer passengers than normal. We want to assure our passengers that there is enough room for them to make essential journeys safely. In addition, it is essential that we give priority to key workers, such as healthcare professionals. This is why we are now exploring measures that we would not usually consider under normal circumstances. We think that this is a responsible way to proceed. The results of this study will form an important starting point in this respect.”
Head of the research Mark van Hagen from NS: “To understand the long and short-term impact of the coronavirus crisis, passengers will be asked questions at various times during the forthcoming period. We want to study the effects on their travel behaviour, and ask whether they intend to continue working from home or stagger their journeys. We will also study specific measures designed to ensure social distancing while travelling by train, such as making a reservation in advance. TU Delft will use the information for academic publications, so that it can be shared with a wider public.”