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Understanding travel characteristics before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) used Replica to understand travel characteristics before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in the five-county region anchored by the City of Philadelphia.


SEPTA was interested in analyzing trends in pandemic recovery from multiple lenses. Data points of interest included the change in transit vs. auto trip volumes, the distribution of trips by both origin and destination, and trip start time and duration, as well as socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the trip takers.


Relevant data was often out of date and/or incomplete. The desire to compare a pre-pandemic baseline with current statistics proved difficult with other datasets. Replica served as a unique data source that could fill gaps in available data and offer near-real time information to shed light on the pandemic recovery.


SEPTA leveraged Replica’s seasonal and weekly mobility data as well as seasonal socio-demographic data to uncover key insights about the evolving recovery from the pandemic. Specifically, SEPTA extracted data about travel patterns and the corresponding trip takers from Replica’s seasonal dataset (Places) for Fall 2019 and Fall 2022, supplemented by mode-specific origin/destination data from Replica’s weekly dataset (Trends).

Key Insight & Impact

One of the main takeaways from the regional profile was that there was a substantial decline in work trips by all modes since before the pandemic. In Fall 2022, there were approximately 16% fewer work trips with destinations in the SEPTA region compared to Fall 2019. This metric was indicative of the increase in telecommuting during the pandemic, which was also corroborated by Replica data. The regional profile now serves as an internal resource for SEPTA.