Getting groceries during the pandemic: How transit remained important despite the rise of e-delivery

The authors model the use of public transit to reach grocery stores and the use of online delivery services to get groceries, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic among people who used transit regularly prior to the crisis. The authors draw upon a panel survey of pre-pandemic transit riders in Vancouver and Toronto. The authors conduct multivariable two-step tobit regression models that predict the likelihood of a respondent using transit as their primary mode for getting groceries before the pandemic (step 1) and then during the pandemic (step 2). Models are conducted for two survey waves, May 2020 and March 2021. The authors also conduct zero-inflated negative binomial regression models predicting the frequency respondents ordered groceries online. Transit riders over the age of 64 were more likely to use transit to reach groceries before the pandemic and more likely to continue to do so during the pandemic (wave 1, OR, 1.63; CI, 1.24–2.14; wave 2, OR, 1.35; CI, 1.03–1.76). Essential workers were more likely to continue using transit to reach groceries during the pandemic (wave 1, OR, 1.33; CI, 1.24–1.43; wave 2, OR, 1.18; CI, 1.06–1.32). Walking distance to the nearest grocery store was positively associated with using transit to get groceries pre-pandemic (wave 1, OR, 1.02; CI, 1.01–1.03; wave 2, OR, 1.02; CI, 1.01–1.03), and in May 2020 (wave 1, OR 1.01; (1.00–1.02). During the pandemic, people who stopped using transit to get groceries were less likely to have made zero online grocery purchases (wave 1, OR, 0.56; CI, 0.41–0.75; wave 2, OR, 0.62; CI, 0.41–0.94). People still physically commuting to work were more likely to still use transit to get groceries. Among transit riders, older adults and those living far walking distances from grocery stores are more likely to use transit to get groceries. Older transit riders and those with higher incomes were also more likely to use grocery delivery services, while female, Black, and immigrant riders were less likely to do so.


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  • Accession Number: 01886157
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 28 2023 2:56PM