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Reduced travel during COVID-19 positive for environment, yet worsening inequity, transportation expert says

Thu, 04/23/2020

LAWRENCE — Stay-at-home orders issued around the world to fight the COVID-19 pandemic have drastically reduced travel, in turn dropping fuel consumption, reducing pollution and affecting transportation. As people remain home and the majority of vehicular travel is commercial, oil prices have plummeted. Bradley Lane, a transportation policy, behavior and planning specialist, is available to discuss the changing face of travel with media.

Lane, associate professor of public affairs & administration at the University of Kansas, can discuss falling oil prices, the reduced amount of traffic on the road, reduced oil consumption, potential changes to travel policy, when travel might return to normal levels, the influence of gasoline prices on travel behavior and related topics.

 “For transportation sustainability, COVID-19 is having significant positive impacts on the environment, with significant reductions in personal vehicle travel and complementary increases in walking and biking resulting in decreasing emissions and drastically reduced congestion,” Lane said. “However, the picture isn’t that simple; there are negative impacts for sustainability as well, in the form of significantly reduced economic activity, and any time there is an impact economically on travel, it disproportionately impacts lower-income and minority households, further exacerbating inequity issues. The long-term effect will be difficult to tell for some time and likely be more complex than we can currently understand.”

Lane has studied urban transportation and planning, perceptions, attitudes toward travel and electric vehicle usage. He has also studied fuel efficiency, what influences decisions to travel, whether people would be willing to use autonomous vehicles and the relationship between fuel prices and use of public transportation. He can discuss those topics and how COVID-19 is affecting transportation now and what the future ramifications may be.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at mkrings@ku.edu or @MikeKrings.



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