In the United States, public transit ridership in 2020 declined by 79% compared to 2019 levels. With lockdowns implemented during the early days of the pandemic, direct human-to-human interactions migrated to virtual platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit). Social media platforms have aided researchers in answering numerous questions about current societal dilemmas, including COVID-19. This study investigates the public’s perception of transit systems via a social media analysis given the emergence of vaccines and other COVID-19 preventive measures. Findings revealed themes of fear and confusion concerning the use of public transportation during the pandemic. The public had doubts regarding the vaccines’ impact on transportation and movement throughout 2021, with most users concerned about the proliferation of new variants. Twitter users were concerned about the travel bans placed on African countries amidst the Omicron variant and urged the government to remove the bans. These findings will help bridge the gap between public health, transport, and commuter needs by helping transportation authorities and city planners better understand the social perception of transit systems during a pandemic.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Miscellaneous, Transit and Passenger Rail

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



Public Transportation, Twitter, Text Mining, Social Media Mining, COVID-19


Social Media | Transportation