The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly disrupted social and economic activities in California and throughout the nation. Like most states, California has implemented aggressive measures to contain the virus, such as issuing a phased shelter-at-home order. In response, there has been a surge in telecommuting, online shopping, and walking and biking as well as dramatic reductions in local travel. These changes have produced benefits, such as cleaner air, fewer traffic accidents, and less traffic congestion, but  have also created unprecedented challenges, such as crippling reductions in transit revenues, modified transit service that disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations, supply chain disruptions impeding the delivery of medical supplies, and removal of shared mobility options (i.e., shared e-bikes and e-scooters). Understanding and addressing these transportation-related challenges while preserving the benefits where and when possible will be vital to California’s success in tempering the spread of COVID-19 while getting the economy moving again. 

To help the state in its response and recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UC Institute of Transportation Studies (UC ITS) is supporting research to understand the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on the state’s transportation systems. As part of this special initiative, the UC ITS released a rapid-response research solicitation in late March 2020 to support immediate data-collection efforts and near-term research activities to be completed during the second half of 2020. In addition, the UC ITS is also funding longer-term projects that will be completed over the next 12 to 24 months that will help capture and understand the rippling effects of COVID-19 over time. Near- and longer-term research activities will be complemented by outreach and engagement efforts, including virtual meetings and discussions with transportation leaders to ensure research is informed by frontline practitioners, a webinar series highlighting new research insights, as well as a policy brief series distilling key findings.

For more information about individual UC ITS research projects related to COVID-19 and the UC ITS’s broader research portfolio, please visit our Research Projects page. To receive updates on new research results and engagement activities, please subscribe to the UC ITS mailing list.