High Volume Transport

Vital transport research to ensure accessible, affordable and climate friendly transport for all.

More gender equitable urban transport to meet the COVID-19 challenge

Potential impact

Guidelines to design for more gender-equitable public transport in urban areas to meet the COVID-19 challenge in low-income countries in Africa and South Asia.

COVID-19 Challenge

COVID-19 is having considerable impact on public transport in low-income countries in Asia and Africa, and particularly for women. The pandemic has reduced the number of trips to and from work, cutting demand for public transport and consequently, reducing the frequency of transport services.

The impact of reduced public transport has had greater impact on women than on men. The pandemic has increased the burden on women to provide unpaid care in the family and community, resulting in changing needs for public transport services.

While public transport routes have traditionally been designed to accommodate work-home journeys, the pandemic is changing transport patterns as more people work from home and non-essential journeys are reduced.

COVID-19 has reduced formal public transport services and has shifted transport demand from primarily home to work journeys to more multi-purpose journeys with greater pressure on women to travel.


Our study investigated how in the wake COVID-19 and changing demand on urban transport networks can be rapidly reviewed and redesigned to provide more gender-equitable services.


The study has developed guidelines for cities in low-income countries in Asia to rapidly review public transport networks. The guideline is based on accessibility mapping, a tool used worldwide to identify network gaps and to assess the effectiveness of potential extensions and adjustments to networks. Accessibility mapping gives insight into journey patterns, enabling key journeys to be prioritised and developing a user needs-led method for network design. This technique is particularly relevance for assessing public transport requirements in COVID-19 crisis, and can be replicated for other post-crisis management environments where rapid, flexible action is key.

Study Outcome

The guidelines have been developed to support cities in creating more gender-equitable transport networks through the use of open-source data and tools that are easier to adopt. This will help to ensure more effective and gender-equitable transport solutions are developed for essential journeys.

The study has produced guidance and capacity building materials that can be adopted in the low-income countries (LICs). This work was piloted in Myanmar but the outcome will support public transport re-planning in many different cities in LICs in response to the COVID-19 impact.