Mobility Reimagined: Tracking transportation trends in the U.S.

Jul 08, 2020


Madeline Lenahan

Jul 08, 2020

Communications & Content Manager

Mobility Reimagined 

COVID-19 has drastically reshaped our lives, altering how we spend, what we do, and where we go. Using mobile app data, we’ve been able to closely monitor these shifts in consumer behavior, sharing some of our findings along the way. Now, as the U.S. tackles various phases of reopening, we're seeing new trends and behaviors develop.

Most obvious, of course, is that people and their vehicles have returned to the streets (for better or for worse.) To get a clear picture of who's traveling, how, and when, we teamed up with Foursquare, a location data platform. Using our mobile app data and their location data, we were able to thoroughly examine the state of mobility in the U.S.

So what did we find? Largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, people in the U.S. are shifting away from public transportation and ridesharing. Instead, they’re opting for more isolated modes of travel, like driving and biking. 

Top public transit schedule apps have seen their demand halved from one year ago, and visits to subway and train stations remain below 50% of pre-pandemic levels. However, certain markets seem more apt to start using subways, trains and buses again. In the report, we list and rank the cities where we expect public transportation to recover most quickly. 

Similar to public transportation, ridesharing saw a significant drop-off in usage during the height of the pandemic as people stayed home and avoided contact with others. While rideshare demand has recovered significantly, downloads of leading rideshare apps are still down 21% year over year, perhaps indicating people are still hesitant to ride in a car with other people.

Solo-driving, on the other hand, is on the rise. Indicators from both Foursquare and Apptopia show a returned interest in acquiring new and/or used vehicles. Visits to auto dealerships are back to pre-pandemic levels, and usage of apps like CarGurus and Carvana are up year over year.  

And as the summer months usher in good weather across the U.S., outdoor forms of isolated travel, like bikes and scooters, are seeing an increase in engagement. Usage of bike rental apps is up year-over-year, and visits to bike shares and shops have recovered from the pandemic. 

For a detailed analysis, download the free report here.


The Takeaways?

People are changing how and when they travel.  These shifts have widespread implications for a variety of sectors:

- Mobility players can contextualize their own performance and adapt strategies and messaging. 

- Publishers can reach commuters while they’re in transit, taking advantage of peak moments of receptivity.

- Brick and mortar brands can engage commuters along their journey, using advertising and push notifications to influence the places people go on their way from point A to point B.

- Investors can enable the future of mobility, amplifying the growth of brands and services that tap into consumer behavior.



Apptopia provides competitive intelligence for the mobile app economy. Apptopia was founded on the belief that the mobile app community requires transparency to level the playing field and make way for innovation and industry advancements. In this report, Apptopia analyzed usage of the following mobile apps: Uber, Lyft, MBTA, MTA, Transit, Moovit, Citymapper, SpotHero, ParkMobile, Bird, Lime, Capital Bikeshare, Citi Bike, Bluebikes, Bay Wheels, and Divvy Bikes in 2019-2020.

Foursquare is the leading independent location technology platform. Foursquare analyzes consumer behavior based on foot traffic data from millions of Americans that make up our always-on panel.  All data is pseudonymized, aggregated and normalized against U.S. Census data to remove any age, gender and geographical bias. In this report, Foursquare analyzed foot traffic to metro stations, train stations, gas stations, auto dealerships, bike rentals, and bike shops in 2019-2020, using rolling 7-day averages to account for fluctuations by day of week. 

Download the report

Madeline Lenahan

Communications & Content Manager