Transport / Europe bulletin # 3 : Covid-19 crisis and transport in Europe

Before pharmaceutical research produced a vaccine authorised by the health authorities, restricting, controlling and regulating the mobility of individuals was one of the major levers of policy decisions to contain and fight the epidemic in the states studied by the OPSTE.

These measures were defined through the articulation of two main criteria:

  • The reasons for travel, including the newly-introduced concept of “essential travel” or “non-essential travel” as a corollary to the definition of “basic necessities”,
  • The conditions of travel: reduced availability of public transport, reduced capacity of the rolling stock as a result of increased physical distances, introduction of “curfew” time slots, obligation to submit negative test reports for cross-border transport, promotion of travel by bicycle, etc.

Whereas the spread of the Covid-19 virus has affected all of Europe, its severity and dynamics showed significant disparities between countries. The specific character of each country’s institutional and political system, and consequently of its political decision-making processes, the differences in the setup of their transport systems and the absence of full competence of the European Union in health matters have resulted in a great diversity of measures and procedures implemented by governments.

How have mobility practices been affected by the travel restrictions (lockdowns or curfews, distance learning, telecommuting, etc.) on the one hand and the controlled use of the means of transport (reduced supply, traveller distancing, encouragement of bicycle travel, etc.)? Based on the different national contexts, what are the main highlights in each country and what are their similarities and dissimilarities?

In videoconferences held in December 2020 and later in March 2021, OPSTE experts conducted a comparative analysis of the effects of the pandemic and of the mobility restriction decisions on the transport systems in Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.

This first study of the consequences of the first wave of the pandemic on the transport systems (1 st half of 2020) has been further clarified by the analyses triggered by the second wave (autumn of 2020 and winter of 2021). OPSTE will soon continue this study through analysis of the recovery plans proposed by the governments of the countries within its scope.

Access or download the Transport in Europe Newsletter #3.

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