Environment is a low priority for commuters

People do not consider the environment when making travel plans, according to a new study published by Decarbonising Transport Deliberative Research.

When commuters choose between travelling by car or a more eco-friendly alternative, they do not consider the environmental impacts of their decision. Instead, people are likely to choose whichever vehicle they are most comfortable using.

For example, people who drive to work are also likely to drive to attend hospital appointments, take part in leisure activities, and to see family and friends. They choose to travel by car because driving is a habit. It is rare for a habitual driver to use a bus or a train.

The research shows a clear hierarchy in making travel choices, with habit being the most significant. People also preferred transport modes with shorter travel times and higher reliability. The remaining key factors are summarised here.

  • Flexibility: several respondents preferred having immediate access to transport, instead of waiting for a bus to become available. 
  • Family Friendly: people want the ability to carry luggage, entertain children, and have easier access to toilets.
  • Convenience: people preferred ‘door to door’ modes of transport with a minimal interchange between different transport types.
  • Least Important Factors: comfort, hygiene, and personal safety were not considered as important.

Cost was also a key factor. Although car owners were satisfied with their vehicle’s low ‘on the day costs’, they did not consider the ongoing financial commitment of owning and maintaining a car.

It is clear that the behavioural change required to increase the use of public transport and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will not be easily won.

David Everson

EEAN Transport Group

Image credits: PA Media & Clive G