Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography Research Research projects
Transport disrupted – substituting public transport by bike or car under Covid 19

Transport disrupted – substituting public transport by bike or car under Covid 19

© Timo Kleiner-Schäfer, 2020
Led by:  Dr. Kerstin J. Schäfer und Dr. Leonie Tuitjer
Team:  Dr. Kerstin J. Schäfer und Dr. Leonie Tuitjer
Year:  2023
Funding:  Niedersächisches Vorab der VW-Stiftung und dem Niedersächsischen Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur
Duration:  2020 - 2023
Is Finished:  yes

The COVID 19 pandemic began to show its effects in Germany in spring 2020. Comprehensive measures were quickly taken to restrict contact and reduce mobility: social distancing, home office and home schooling are now firmly part of our new crisis vocabulary, which is also accompanying us in 2021, the second pandemic year. In this project on mobility restrictions and behavior change due to the pandemic, we use survey data collected in June 2020 from over 4,000 participants* on changes in mobility behavior in the Hannover metropolitan area during the first wave of the pandemic (spring to summer 2020).

In our analyses, we first consider the impact of the pandemic on mobility reductions of different socioeconomic groups to better understand the interplay of sociodemographic factors such as age, gender, income, education, and child-rearing work. The results support our hypothesis that certain groups are more affected than others and show that immobility in crisis can be both a constraint and a privilege, thus requiring careful evaluations.

We also take a closer look at the use of public transport (PT), which has declined rapidly in many cities around the world in the wake of the pandemic and due to the taken containment measures. This is accompanied not only by an economic crisis in this already heavily subsidized sector, but also by a threat to the current climate strategy. Therefore, the analyses focus on whether public transport use is being replaced by private car or bicycle use. We also consider influencing factors such as socio-economic characteristics and environmental awareness, but also spatial factors such as transport infrastructure density. In addition, we also explore the factors that lead to reservations about public transport use, such as fear of infection.

In a second survey wave in 2021, further in-depth questions as well as more long-term developments on the topic will be recorded and evaluated.


  • Schaefer, K. J.; Tuitjer, L.; Levin-Keitel, M. (2021): Transport disrupted – substituting public transport by bike or car under Covid 19. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice , Vol. 153, 202-217. DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2021.09.002

Presentations to Scientific Audiences

  • Schaefer, K. J.: (Im)mobilität und (Un)gleichheiten während der Corona Pandemie. Keynote at AK Mobilität und Verkehr, 01.07.2022.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Mobilität während der COVID-19 Pandemie: Sind wir alle gleichermaßen betroffen? MoveMe. Mobilität neu TUN!. Hannover 23.06.2021.
  • Tuitjer, L.; Schaefer, K. J.: (Im)mobilitätund (Un)gleichheitenwährend der Corona Pandemie. Soziologische Perspektiven auf die Corona-Krise -Digitales Kolloquium. Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB). 17.02.2021
  • Schaefer, K. J.; Tuitjer, L.: COVID-19 Pandemie – Mobilitätseinschränkungen, ÖPNV-Nutzung und Alternativen. Digital TRUST Lectures on Spatial Transformation. Hannover (Germany) 04.02.2021