Trends in European mobility

A closer look at Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands and their development shows that the trend of intensive car use, which has been observable throughout Europe for years and decades, is no longer as pronounced as it used to be, at least in some countries. 

Urban areas are the fields of action

Our analysis showed that, especially in recent years, people are using public transport modes more often. Especially in Belgium people use buses, trams and metros much more often, whereas in Hungary and Croatia usage of privately owned car is still increasing.  

In general it was visible in all countries that the use of public transport in urban areas is much more intensive than the national average. We found out that political measures to foster public transport, which exist to a different extent in all countries, are much more compulsive and concrete on a municipal level than on a national level. For this reason nine of the ten selected regions are located within or next to metropolitan areas. All selected regions have regional rail system as a backbone and have show increasing passenger numbers in the last years.

Improvements must be cost-efficient

Our analysis also indicated that the demand for public transport in all countries grew much faster than the services available, which means that transport policy is facing some major challenges, especially at a regional and a municipal level. The cities will have to improve their public transport systems, although in some cases, due to general economic and financial problems, they do not have the financial means to make the necessary investments. Against the backdrop of the financial problems, (municipal) policy has two alternatives: either a general reduction of investments in public transport or implementing specific cost-effective measures that will still improve public transport. Our analysis revealed that in most cases the second way was chosen, as the “Best practice list” underlines: measures like tariff integration, customer service and passenger information systems are just some examples of effective and cost-efficient improvements.

‘Soft factors’ are the focus of USEmobility

To find out which investments and measures have an impact on people’s choice of transport mode it is important to indentify the reasons for the choice of transport mode. USEmobility focuses especially on the so-called ‘soft factors’. Soft factors in the case of USEmobility are in contrast to hard factors that are not rationally measurable like price, journey time or number of connections. Soft factors include, among other things, the friendliness of employees, providing information, comfort and safety, all of which are perceived by every person in an individual way.

USEmobility will fill a gap

In order to obtain a thorough understanding of passenger’s behaviour, a state-of-the-art investigation into transport related behaviour was very helpful. It showed that research concerning the choice of transport mode is quite interdisciplinary and uses theoretical models of system dynamics. These find application in sociology, and models of social and consumer behaviour are also applied in psychology and marketing research. Our analysis showed that within the currently existing studies concerning people’s choice of transport mode, there are no surveys analysing the soft factors of transport behaviour. Also, cross-sectional analyses are missing. USEmobility will fill the gap with an internationally comparable, large-sample survey on European basis.  

After having identified the trends in European mobility we are looking forward to starting the market research in the selected regions since the survey will give us new insights into the process of understanding transport behaviour in a complete way.

Georg Kayser BSL Transportation Consultants GmbH & Co.