TORONTO, March 11, 2020 /CNW/ - As a direct result of COVID-19, Canadians are switching their travel habits from public transit to either staying at home or relying more on their cars. Based on a Northstar public opinion poll among n=1000 Canadians, which found that 40% feel that riding public transit poses a high health risk due to the virus. This is in comparison to 48% of Americans who completed a similar study.
More specifically, approximately 30% of Canadians report decreased usage of public transportation (subways, buses and light rail) as a direct result of COVID-19; again, this is compared with 30-40% of Americans who are using public transit less often.
"People's movement away from public transit is likely to have long-term consequences," says Jennifer Yellin, SVP and co-lead of Northstar's Transportation Practice. "The implications include lost revenue for public transit authorities, which is ultimately used to upgrade and maintain systems. There is also the potential for increased traffic and congestion on roads, which could result in increased pollution and have longer range environmental impacts. The ultimate question is whether these riders will return to public transit or stick with their cars long-term."
"What is also interesting," Yellin notes, "is the difference in perceived risk levels between Americans and Canadians. This could suggest that the repercussions of this behaviour change may be not as long-term nor as severe as the United States may see."
Plane travel is also being impacted – more so than public transit. While approximately 40% of Canadians say they are currently taking flights less often, an additional 10% (total of 50%) report they are less likely to consider taking a flight in the next 3-4 months because of COVID-19. "Layering on the cancelled conferences, sporting events and concerts, corporate travel bans, and closures of popular tourist attractions, the ripple effect is likely to be significant across all aspects of the travel, tourism, and hospitality industry," says Yellin.
Most Canadians (nearly two-thirds) believe airports and airlines are taking the appropriate steps to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. However, they are less confident with the steps being taken by public transit agencies. That said, nearly 30% of Canadians don't believe that any company associated with travel is taking the appropriate steps to reduce their risk.
Overall, nearly 40% of Canadians (compared with 50% of Americans) are very or extremely concerned about COVID-19, and 35% (compared with 47% of Americans) believe that they are at least somewhat likely to personally contract the virus. "Again, the differences between perceived risk between Americans and Canadians is stark," notes Yellin.
Interestingly, those who are at the greatest risk from COVID-19 (older Canadians) are the least likely to believe they are personally at risk of contracting the virus: 30% of Canadians 55+ compared with 39% of 18-34 year olds. "This group is likely less concerned about personally contracting the virus due to their decreased mobility – as many are retired and are less likely to be traveling, including taking public transportation," posits Yellin.
Notes to Editors
This study was conducted by Northstar Research Partners, a global strategic research firm. The survey was conducted online from March 6-March 8, 2020 using an amalgamated group of best-in-class panels. The study was conducted among a nationally representative sample of Canadian residents, aged 18+. A similar study was conducted at the same time among a nationally representative sample of US residents, aged 18+.
Northstar Research Partners is a global market research consultancy established in July 1998 with offices in New York, Toronto and London, UK. Northstar brings a client-focused, consultative approach to market research. With over 75 consultants across the U.S., Canada, and Europe, we provide organizations – from the Global Fortune 1000 to small businesses – with the strategic research direction and value-creation they require. The Northstar Research Group of companies are subsidiaries of MDC Partners Inc.
For more information about Northstar: https://www.northstarhub.com/
SOURCE Northstar Research Partners
For further information: Jennifer Yellin, Senior Vice President, Northstar Research Partners; [email protected]