A public transport vaccine bounce?

07 May 2021

Does receiving a vaccine make people feel less concerned about using public transport?

We’ve been asking respondents to our Travel during Covid-19 survey if they have received a vaccination and whether they’ve had one dose or two. This has consistently shown those who have been vaccinated are less likely to say they would feel safe using a bus or a train than those who have not received the vaccine. This isn’t surprising when you consider those who have received the vaccine tend to be older and older groups also tend to be more concerned about Covid-19.

In our most recent survey we asked those people that hadn’t used a bus or train in the last seven days to tell us what would be most likely to encourage them to do so. ‘When I have had both doses of the vaccine’ was the top choice, with almost one in four saying this would encourage them to travel. Almost as popular though, were ‘more space available to social distance on board’ and ‘more passengers wearing face coverings’. This reinforces that – even with the success of the vaccine rollout – it still remains important that operators maintain measures to help people feel safe on board.

We’ve highlighted before how consistently more than eight in 10 people making journeys have felt safe, in relation to coronavirus. It’s been striking how, despite all the recent progress and good news, non-users’ perceptions have seemed slow to change.

The chart shows a clear dip at the turn of the year coinciding with new lockdowns and worrying information about a new variant. This was followed by a steady recovery, a plateau and now a sharper increase. There’s a similar pattern for bus too. Is the recent upturn a sign the success of the vaccination rollout is starting to drive greater non-user confidence in the safety of public transport? Or perhaps it’s as much that as more of the economy re-opens people have more reason to travel and are starting to get used to being out again.

We know that one good journey could lead to many more as habits are re-formed and word of mouth spreads. Even so, it seems governments and operators will need to work hard to reassure, incentivise and ultimately win people back. Our latest Covid-19 travel segmentation report highlights how the different groups’ views vary and how entrenched they may be. Look out for more on this in the coming weeks as we explore what operators can do to help each of the segments feel more confident to choose public transport in the future.

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