• Due to the pandemic, as a large percentage of the workforce shifted to remote work and traveling activities slowed down significantly, wholesale distribution of gasoline and gasohol (-19.0%) and diesel and alternative fuels (-3.9%) for motor vehicle fuels both declined in 2020 relative to 2019. Motor vehicle fuel wholesale distribution is expected to bounce back in 2021, but may remain below the pre-pandemic level.
  • On the other hand, trips on public transit, commonly known as unlinked passenger trips (UPTs, which represent the number of times passengers board public transportation vehicles), fell by over half (-52%) in 2020 compared to 2019—driven largely by a decline in commutes as more workers began to work from home during the pandemic.74 Given the magnitude of the decline, as well as health and safety concerns, it is plausible that some transit riders switched to commuting by car or other private modes of transportation during the pandemic. Even pre-pandemic, UPTs have been falling in California for several years, due to factors such as increased access to automobiles and households increasingly locating in outlying areas resulting in longer commutes and less transit access to employment.75 The decline in public transit ridership has been the most pronounced in Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim MSA despite attempts to reverse this trend and recent and current projects to expand rail service.76

74 It is likely that actual unlinked passenger trips fell by less than 52 percent. For example, riders of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation (LACMTA), the largest public transportation agency, enjoyed free bus rides and did not need to use the TAP card to board; these rides are likely not counted by LACMTA.

75 Taylor, B. D., E. Blumenberg, J. Wasserman, M. Garrett, A. Schouten, H. King, J. Paul and M. Ruvolo (2020). Transit Blues in the Golden State: Analyzing Recent California Ridership Trends. UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies. Retrieved from: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/32j5j0hb

76 Ram, U. and Chong, H. (2020). Expanding Access to Sustainable Transportation in California. Next10. Retrieved from: https://www.next10.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/next10-sustainable-transportation_0.pdf