Citizens of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands were interviewed about their mobility behaviour in the last five years. The results showed that almost half of the population reported a change in their use of transport mode, a fact in dicating a highly dynamic mobility mix among European citizens. In all USEmobility countries there are significant differences in the choice of transport means depending on the travel purpose.
The highest dynamics of change can be found in work-related travel patterns. In Metropolitan areas, one registers in total an increase of public transport, while in the rural areas of the USEmobility countries modal shift tends towards an increased use of motorised individual transport. Now we talking to Mr. Thomas Krautscheid, Head of Quality Research and Klaus-R. Knuth, Head of Consulting at Quotas Ltd. who were both leaders of the project partners’ experts who de signed the survey and analysed the findings.
The classical hard factors influencing preferences in transport mode include reachability, costs, journey time, waiting times, number of transfers and frequency of connections. These have the highest relevance in both the decision to use public transport more frequently, or conversely, to quit using public transport. Regarding the so-called soft factors, highest relevance is found in flexibility, planning effort, availability of information and environmental friendliness.
The core concept behind the survey is the idea to rely on the users’ experiences with their mode of transport in the past rather than on their intentions for the future. The main element of the design is the ‘swing user’, i.e. a user that has reported an actual change in his / her mobility mix in the last five years. The USEmobility survey was designed to include information on why people increased or decreased not only their use of public transport but also motorised individual transport. The design was completed by a whole set of questions that enable us to precisely describe the group(s) of swing users.
In general, a combination of different reasons leads to a change in travel behaviour. The main driver is, however, a change of the life situation, such as changing jobs or moving to another town. Nevertheless, the attractiveness of public transport (we called these factors ‘pull-in factors) and the dissatisfaction with the means of transport (we called them ‘push-out’ factors) used so far can also cause a change.
We found a large group of people who changed their individual mobility-mix (complete change or change of intensity) and called them ‘swing users’. The changes take place in the group of swing users in ⅔ of the cases rather step-by-step and only in ⅓ of the cases overnight. While one finds less than 20% of swing users changing overnight in the age group of people in retirement, this proportion rises when one looks at younger swing users in the respective countries.
In all countries, there is an important segment of swing users with a predominantly pragmatic attitude towards their choice of means of transport (about 25%) The behaviour of these mobility pragmatists is less governed by their mobility attitudes and more influenced by a good and attractive transport offer. A good transport offer is characterised by high-level ‘hard factors’ like nearby stops in residential areas and good reachability of destinations. But only in connection with an increased attractiveness of important ‘soft factors’ like high travel comfort and amenity values of transport (like atmosphere) as well as high flexibility of the offer (resulting from aspects like frequent departures or easy ticket transferability) will have a strong pull-in effect.
EU citizens plan to include environmental questions in their future car purchase considerations. To consider fuel saving cars and electro-mobility are frequently cited strategies. But also ‘soft strategies’ like, for example, to become more informed about environmentally-friendly transport or to organize recreational activities in an environmentally-friendly manner are set to be adopted in the future. Plans to consciously use public transport more often in a multimodal way are strongest in Croatia and Hungary.
Not in general, but it is interesting to see that the image profiles of public transport differ considerably between the countries. For example, in Croatia we find the most positive image of public transport. Swing Users in Croatia see public transport as nicer, simpler, stronger, faster and more peaceful, successful and modern than swing users in Western countries.
The results of this survey can provide valuable insights to everyone working to achieve a behavioural change towards eco-friendly multimodal mobility. The USEmobility project has published a 240 page in-depth report (deliverable D3.6) which addresses decision makers from transportation companies as well as regional / national and European politicians. It also targets the civil society organisations of European citizens and many other interested groups including traffic experts and academic research units. The USEmobility database underlying the report and a number of tabulation volumes will serve a basis for future research and development in the months to come. On this basis, evaluations even more detailed can be made available for concerned bodies. With the survey results we have now a sound foundation for the strategic recommendations to be made later in our project.
Firstly, we were surprised at how many people actually reported a change in their mobility mix in the last five years. Mobility behaviour is less fixed than we might have expected. Secondly, the strong influence of changes in the private situation was a very interesting discovery, since most discussions about mobility-changes focus on the transport offer and not on the personal situation of the user. It is very encouraging that the percentage of pragmatic users is high. However, being pragmatic does not mean being unemotional. It is remarkable to note that aspects of individual motorised transport are put in a much more emotional context than public transport, which has room for development here.
Mr. Thomas Krautscheid, Mr. Klaus-R. Knuth, thank you for this interview. Interview was made by Judit Varga
A report “Factors influencing behavioural change towards eco-friendly multimodal mobility” - 240 pages with results, figures and analyses is coming soon. It will be downloadable from the USEmobility website.