Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Role of Transportation in the U.S, including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

COVID-19 drastically shifted consumer behavior and altered how various forms of transportation play a role in their everyday life. Prior to the pandemic, personal vehicles were popular modes of transit, but alternate transportation services like ride share companies and public transit providers also maintained a reoccurring role in consumers’ lives.

Since the pandemic, most consumers have shifted away from alternate transportation providers in lieu of their personal vehicles so as to guarantee safety and reduced risk of exposure to the virus. Moving forward, the role of transportation will continue to evolve as consumers adjust to the next normal. Consumers will gravitate toward transportation methods that make them feel safe from the virus and look to certain methods not only as a means of getting around but also as an access point to experiences.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the role of transportation in their lives.
  • Comparing the impact of the 2008 and COVID-induced recessions on consumer transportation behaviors.
  • The increased role that personal vehicles play in consumers’ lives.
  • Opportunities for alternate transportation providers to reclaim and reestablish their large role in consumers’ lives

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Hannah Keshishian, a leading analyst in the Automotive sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The role of transportation in consumers’ lives is always evolving. Consumers currently favor their personal vehicles out of fear of contracting COVID-19, underscoring their emotional need to feel safe and clean when deciding how to get around. On the other hand, alternate transportation providers’ ridership and usage rates have generally diminished due to decreased needs and places to go, as well as concerns about health safety. As transportation providers look to the future, working to meet consumers’ needs to feel safe and secure in their health will be critical to establishing a large role in their lives.

Hannah Keshishian

Automotive Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
    • Impact of COVID-19 on the role of transportation
      • Figure 1: Short, medium and long term impact of COVID-19 on the role of transportation, January 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Sanitization stations can boost mass transit’s low cleanliness perceptions
    • OEMs should home in on the perception of personal vehicles being a form of PPE
    • Single-person mobility services have the opportunity to grow their business
    • eCommerce has played a role in diminishing consumer need for transit
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • COVID-19 causes drastic drop in 2020 traffic volumes and need for transit
    • Low gas prices reinforce consumers’ reliance on personal vehicles
  4. Impact of COVID-19 on the Role of Transportation

      • Figure 2: Short, medium and long term impact of COVID-19 on the role of transportation, January 2021
    • Lockdown
    • Reemergence
    • Recovery
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Learnings from the last recession
  5. Market Factors

    • Traffic volumes dip drastically in 2020
    • COVID-19 causes changes to work and work environments
      • Figure 3: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2007-December 2020
    • Low gas prices are a boon to personal vehicles
      • Figure 4: US gasoline and diesel retail prices, January 2007-December 2020
  6. Market Opportunities

    • Leverage emerging tech to provide “touchless transit”
    • Implement self-cleaning technology in electric modes of transportation
    • Partner with cleaning product companies to provide a “safer, cleaner” experience
    • Multivehicle ownership could increase as a result of COVID-19
  7. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Uber partners with Moderna to provide support in vaccine rollout
    • CTA aims to ease concerns of passengers through free mask dispensers
    • New York’s MTA introduces “OMNY” to offer “touchless transit” to riders
    • MBTA becomes largest transit provider with 100% renewable energy
    • Illinois Tollway encourages touchless transit with I-Pass
    • GM commits to a fully electric future
  8. Competitive Strategies

    • Uber partners with Moderna to aid in COVID-19 vaccination process
      • Figure 5: Uber partners with Moderna around COVID-19 vaccine process
    • CTA pilots mask dispenser program on buses
      • Figure 6: Chicago Transit Authority free mask dispenser program
    • MTA soon to offer “touchless transit”
      • Figure 7: Metropolitan Transit Authority rolls out contactless payment
    • MBTA becomes largest transit provider to reach 100% renewable energy
      • Figure 8: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority uses 100% renewable energy
    • Illinois Tollway encourages I-Pass enrollment for hassle-free vehicle travel
    • General Motors plans for an all-electric future
      • Figure 9: General Motors announces all-electric future
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Pandemic has drastically decreased consumers’ need to drive
    • Single-person mobility services gain popularity during the pandemic
    • Clean transit requires a community approach
    • Safety is the most important factor when deciding how to get somewhere
  10. Consumer Trend Drivers Impacting the Role of Transportation

    • Technology
    • Value
    • Experiences
    • Wellbeing
    • Surroundings
  11. Consumers’ Approach to Transportation

    • Cars are most popular way to get around
      • Figure 10: Transportation services used in a 12-month period, November 2020
    • While personal vehicles are preferred, consumers have hit the brakes on their driving habits
      • Figure 11: Driving rates since start of pandemic, November 2020
    • COVID-19 has also lessened the role of alternate transportation services
      • Figure 12: Transportation services used in a 12-month period, by year, December 2019, November 2020
    • Lack of alternate transportation causes consumers under 45 to drive more
      • Figure 13: Driving rates since start of pandemic, by age, November 2020
    • COVID-19 driving rates differ by area; new opportunities for alternate services
      • Figure 14: Driving rates since start of pandemic, by area, November 2020
    • Single-person mobility services gain popularity, garner high usage
      • Figure 15: Usage rates of transportation methods used since start of the pandemic, November 2020
  12. Attitudes toward Transportation

    • Personal vehicle ownership isn’t going anywhere anytime soon
      • Figure 16: Consumer attitudes toward personal vehicle ownership, November 2020
    • Older consumers more likely to perceive personal vehicles as PPE
      • Figure 17: Consumer attitudes toward personal vehicle ownership, by age, November 2020
    • Clean transit requires an “all hands” approach in the eyes of consumers
      • Figure 18: Consumer attitudes toward mass transit sanitization, November 2020
    • Ride share services must address actual and perceived price increases
      • Figure 19: Perception of increased rideshare pricing, by area, November 2020
  13. Important Factors When Deciding How to Get Somewhere

    • Safety trumps price, convenience
      • Figure 20: Most important factors, November 2020
    • Women focus on safety, convenience and reliability; men focus on practicality, comfort
      • Figure 21: Most important factors, by gender, November 2020
  14. Transportation Service Attributes

    • Overall, alternate transportation services are functional
      • Figure 22: Chicago’s holiday train operates through pandemic
      • Figure 23: Perception of transportation services, November 2020
    • Transportation lacks perception of being clean, hygienic and low-risk of COVID-19
      • Figure 24: Perception of transportation services, November 2020
    • Alternate transit can appeal to consumers’ desire for environmentally friendly options
      • Figure 25: Perception of transportation services as sustainable, November 2020
  15. The Future of Transportation

    • Consumers envision a more cautious relationship with transportation
      • Figure 26: Attitudes toward the future of transportation, November 2020
    • COVID’s impact on shared and mass transit mostly affects urban consumers
      • Figure 27: Attitudes toward the future of transportation, by area, November 2020
  16. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Direct marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  17. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 28: Usage rates of transportation methods used since March 2020, by gender, November 2020

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

Below is a sample report, understand what you are buying.

Click to show report

Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted. Also, our reports come in PDF, Powerpoint, Word and Excel Databook formats.

Trusted by companies. Big and small.

Bell Logo - Mintel client
Boots Logo - Mintel Client
Kelloggs Logo - Mintel client
Samsung Logo - Mintel client
Nike Logo - Mintel client
Walgreens Logo - Mintel client

Want to speak to us directly?

Contact us on via phone or fill out a form with your enquiry.

Contact Us