Image Copyright: Urban Transport News
Genova, Italy (Urban Transport News): Hitachi Rail publishes a major new report investigating attitudes towards public transport and smart mobility in eight cities around the globe on 25th January 2023. The first-of-its-kind study finds that three-quarters (75%) of people would choose a better-connected public transport system, rather than driving. The report finds a strong global demand for smart transport solutions to deliver enhanced cost, convenience and comfort, with a willingness to pay for improvements through increased taxes on private transport.
The research for the report was conducted by leading independent consumer research company, Savanta ComRes. The research investigated over 8,000 peoples’ attitudes in eight major global cities: Washington D.C., Toronto, London, Paris, Dusseldorf, Turin, Dubai and Bangkok. Hitachi Rail commissioned the research to better understand the push and pull factors for using public transport and how they interact with Hitachi Rail’s business is rolling out to support cities around the world.
The research provides useful insights for transport planners seeking to understand how to increase public transport usage. Overcrowding (48%) and busyness (42%) of services are the single biggest factors that put people off. In contrast, people identify the three C’s – cost, convenience and comfort – as their biggest motivators to travel, with 79% noting the appeal of the ability to avoid crowded services, and 78% highlighting the importance of shortest journey time, and cheapest travel option.
A powerful three-quarters (75%) of global respondents would likely choose a better-connected public transport system, rather than driving. People across cities also share a clear sense of how public transport networks can overcome existing barriers, placing an emphasis on the benefits of digitisation. For example, 73% suggested they would be more likely to travel on public transport if they could see live information on crowding levels on services. This rises to almost 9 in 10 people in Bangkok. The research also shows the public have a strong general understanding of what ‘smart’ transport means, driven by high levels of take-up of digital apps, with 59% of respondents using them to plan or book their journeys.
However, the move towards digitisation currently presents barriers as well. Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents are put off from using public transport where they needed to use multiple different apps; while only just over half were willing to share their payment details with multiple travel apps. This reticence varies dramatically from country to country, with far lower trust in North America and the UK, compared to mainland Europe and Asia.
Across every city, the majority (averaging 71%) noted that they now travel differently following the pandemic. Those surveyed do however expect that how they travel will change again (59%). This provides hope for municipalities around the world, whose net-zero and air pollution targets require solutions that reduce the use of polluting vehicles.
The research finds that people would also be prepared to pay more for better-connected public transport. When faced with the same option of a better-connected transport system but at a higher cost than driving, 3 in 5 people (60%) still suggested that they would choose to travel this way.
The study also finds that one possible route for charging and paying for better-connected public transport could be via new or increased road charges. Overall, 63% were in favour of this as a revenue source, with only 14% against – despite almost two-thirds of people (63%) believing that they now drive more post-pandemic. Even in cities with the highest percentage of driving commuters, there is still a majority in favour of such taxes (51% in Toronto and 52% in Washington).
According to Hitachi Rail, a total of 8,073 respondents were surveyed across eight cities; 1009 in London, 1004 in Washington D.C., 1000 in Toronto, 1002 in Paris, 1006 in Dusseldorf, 1020 in Turin, 1021 in Dubai, and 1011 in Bangkok. The respondents were about 50% male and 49% female.