High Volume Transport

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

COVID-19 Response and Recovery Research: An Evidence Base for a Resilient Future

By the time the World Health Organisation declared pandemic status for COVID-19 on 11th March 2020 we were already seeing chaos in the transport systems within Low-Income Countries (LICs). India’s transport system effectively collapsed as huge numbers of migrant workers rushed to return to their home villages. Informal transport operators in South Africa used insecticides as disinfectants. Elsewhere ill-informed transport operators continued to overcrowd public transport buses and trains.

We at HVT knew that transportation could have a key role to play in the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19, and in keeping low-income economies moving during the pandemic. But there was limited evidence base on what works, which was leading to general misinformation. We also recognised that many transport institutions in these nations had limited capacity and resources for dealing with COVID-19 hygiene measures and operational matters.

We set out urgently to gather and disseminate critical information. We gathered evidence on what appeared to work and what didn’t and on what the Chinese authorities in Hubei Province  did in response to the pandemic. And, we published  “A Call for Action on COVID-19” for the transport community. We launched an innovation research programme which received 200 expressions of interest. We awarded 20 research projects from a field of 45 proposals which formed the portfolio of the ‘COVID-19 Response and Recovery Transport Research’.

The research concluded that there is an urgent need to develop transport systems that make transport less fragile and more resilient to future pandemics.  

Some of the key takeaways from the research included:

The pandemic is still with us and in many LIC countries there is concern about the new waves of infection and mutations of the virus.  It is important that the transport sector continues to innovate and piece together the evidence for ongoing response and eventual recovery.

It is our hope that this body of evidence will now lead to more research and recommendations to re-build better as we continue to emerge from the devastating impact of COVID-19.