Ra8-- what is changing is the total dominance of development in the downtowns of the major metros versus the burbsI'm of a similar line of thinking. Looking at the fundamentals of economic activity, transportation system capacities, and case studies from not just Europe or Asia, but Anglo-America ... all else being equal, there's nothing pointing to transit ridership being permanently diminished by COVID-19. (I mean, unless you go full SEPTA and use this as your opportunity to try to bust unions, change your operations models, further delay necessary repairs, and put yourself on a path to cratering your regional rail system so that it takes nearly 12 years for ridership to recover...but that's another story.)
Street and highway capacity hasn't changed because of COVID-19 response. So, while predicting how long it will take for full economic recovery to happen, I just don't see a long-term trend away from the ridership status quo pre-COVID-19. In this region, there's only so much capacity to meet travel demand before transit relieves the pressure off the street and highway network.
For me, it's all about economic activity. So far the fundamentals of economic activity in the region haven't changed, rather, they've shifted in ways that appear to be temporary in the 5-, 10-, 20- year time horizon.
This seasaw flips from time to time -- and today its decidedly moving away from where it was 10 to 1 years ago
First the Work at Home has shown quite a few companies whose product is bits -- that they can do almost as much with a mostly work-at-home model as the everyone in a big open floor downtown
2nd the idea of more work at home has allowed for more work near home to be back in the discussion and since in Greater Boston most of the working population doesn't live in the core cities -- this means a lot of thought again about building in the inner burbs
Finally -- while this might be a transient -- the idea of high density workspaces is now in question -- again tending to either favor more floor per employee in new construction and/or fewer employees all of the time [more just go downtown for the meetings which can't easily be done remotely]
Of course if you are building robots or actually working in a lab with bio then the people still need to be on the site -- but maybe the site doesn't need to be all downtown?
We'll soon see as there is nearly 1M sq ft in Waltham near Rt-2 on Rt-128 either coming to market or in the immediate pipeline