COVID-19 Insight: How does public transportation ridership relate to COVID-19 cases?
Many Chicagoans use public transportation to get them to and from work. Could increased time on buses and trains have predictive value?

Published April 10, 2020


We, at Metopio, want you to be safe and healthy.

While communities are implementing the necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, critical healthcare providers and certain businesses must remain open.

We are constantly updating Metopio’s curated data sets to offer opportunities to understand how the places and populations you care about are impacted. This analysis tackles public transportation.

In densely populated areas, public transportation is critical to getting residents around the city whether it is to work or to the store for provisions.

This scatterplot shows a highly significant correlation between the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 residents and public transportation usage. A scatterplot simply shows the relationship between two sets of data along an x and y axis.

Click on or hover over any bubble on the scatterplot above to see the corresponding area on the map. Data for COVID-19 cases from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The scatterplot shows changing public transportation to work has a clear effect on the COVID-19 case rate when holding some variables constant like income, education and demographics. Simply put, you get to see on the how the two variables relate to each other when isolated from others in the model. This gives you a clearer picture.

In Chicago, people who take public transportation to work in West Side and South Side communities also have a higher rate of COVID-19 cases. Interestingly, this scatterplot also shows North Side communities with high public transit usage but lower case rates.

If we had data from the last month, we might see that public transportation usage drops in North Side communities where residents have more ability to work from home, while West and South Side communities see a lesser decrease. If that assumption bore out in the data, you could turn that insight into action by providing resources like gloves and masks where they are most needed.

Check back as we access more data and dig deeper to provide you with these valuable insights.

Do you have data that would enhance this analysis?

Metopio aggregates high-quality, verified data that has some geographic component - think address or any part thereof - to develop insights that inform your business and policy decisions.

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