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EU project USEmobility: survey on choice of transport mode

Press release 06.11.2012

EU project USEmobility: survey on choice of transport mode

Half of travellers are willing to change

A project that understands travellers: why do people switch from the car to public transport and vice versa


Berlin. When it comes to choosing their means of transport, travellers in Germany and Europe are surprisingly willing to switch modes. Almost 50 percent of those surveyed in six European countries say that they have changed their own mobility mix in the last few years. That is the conclusion of a survey that was carried out by Quotas as part of the EU project USEmobility. In a novel approach to researching the real-life reasons for change, transport experts took representative samples in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, the Netherlands and Belgium. In contrast with what at first sight appears to be static market shares for each of the transport modes, the survey suggests that the European transport market is in fact highly dynamic. "We now know that half of all travellers are not simply committed to using their cars or public transport for ever more," said Dirk Flege, managing director of the German Pro-Rail Alliance, on Tuesday in Berlin. "We also know which factors play a role when people switch from the car to public transport and vice versa." USEmobility – or to use its full title: Understanding Social behaviour for Eco-friendly multimodal mobility – gives transport policy makers a clear requirement profile and provides transport companies with ideas on how to retain passengers and gain new customers. "A dynamic market gives policy makers and companies a range of opportunities for helping travellers to decide in favour of public transport," said the managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, which is coordinating the EU project.

The so-called swing-users identified by the Quotas survey are increasingly using multiple modes for their journeys, with two thirds of travellers choosing a mix of different modes for their daily journeys, whereas one third changed to one single transport mode. "Overall, the freedom to choose tends to increase with the age of a swing-user ", said Thomas Krautscheid from Quotas. "Older people often own a car but nevertheless show greater flexibility when deciding for or against public transport, depending on the situation." The fact that people change their transport habits at all depends, above all, on changes in their personal circumstances: a new place of work, having children, moving home or retiring were reasons given by people in all the European countries that were surveyed as reasons for reassessing their transport needs. "Travellers said that they experiences changes in their personal circumstances on average every two years. "Such events are therefore not seldom, and provide transport companies with leverage for directly targeting new potential customers," added Krautscheid.


The results of the survey are similar in all the countries surveyed. Nevertheless, the researchers identified characteristics specific to each country. The car in Germany has a particularly strong image and is mainly associated with attributes such as fast, spontaneous and exciting, which is to be expected in a nation of car-lovers. At the same time, the survey confirmed that Germans are more willing to switch than their European neighbours. For commuting to work, over 50 percent of those surveyed said they had modified their mobility mix within the previous five years. In addition, 77 percent of Germans travel using multiple transport modes, more than in any other European nation. According to the survey, German travellers were 10 percent less satisfied with the personnel on trains than passengers in the other countries in Europe, whereas in Austria, customer satisfaction levels among users of public transport were above average. For Austrians, busses and trains also enjoy a positive image. In the Netherlands, 43 percent of travellers were still using one mode of transport after they had switched, more than in any other country in Europe. Travellers in Belgium regard public transport as more urban, and consider it to have a better safety record than people in other European countries. Hungarians believe that transport companies need to improve their passenger information policies. Only seven percent thought that they had been sufficiently informed about the transport services on offer. Among those surveyed in Croatia there was a greater awareness about environmental issues, with 70 percent saying they would be proud to pay more for more environmentally friendly transport.

The USEmobility project will be concluded with an event on February 13, 2013, from 10am to 4pm in Berlin. You are cordially invited. Address: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Leibniz-Saal, Jägerstraße 22/23, 10117 Berlin.


Additional information


Dr. Barbara Mauersberg
Press Officer

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