At the start of the first corona lockdown, people bought masks and disinfection gel in a hurry. A train journey was suddenly accompanied by the same intensity of hand washing as that of a surgeon before an operation. This behaviour is the result of advices and campaigns. The MObility during and after COrona LOckDown research project (MOCOLODO) answers the question: “What motivates people to avoid public transport during the corona crisis and to use public transport again after the corona crisis?” Leonie Vrieling, researcher at the University of Groningen, currently working on the MOCOLODO research, and Jorinde ten Hoeve, marketer at OV-bureau Groningen Drenthe, explain the consequences and influences of the corona crisis on public transport in an online session during the New Energy Forum.
Influence of campaigns and advices
In both “must” and “pleasure” travel, Leonie sees that the selfish values are an important predictor of people’s public transport use during the corona crisis. This means that travellers still choose public transport during the corona crisis because it is a cheap, fast and best choice for themselves. Results from the MOCOLODO study show that, from the first lockdown, health values are also important in people’s public transport use. Travelers indicate that they avoid public transport to protect their own health. This value has been spurred on with campaigns and information about contagion risks within public transport due to the difficulty of keeping sufficient distance. With the user figures from the public transport agency, Jorinde shows that the average number of check-ins in week 12 of 2020 (the start of the first lockdown) indeed dropped to an occupancy of 15%. The campaigns and advices were therefore successful.
Meanwhile, in June 2021, the average number of check-ins is again over half of the average occupancy rate of 2019. The MOCOLODO study reflects this growing occupancy with survey results: travellers indicate that they want to travel by public transport again, now that the infection rates are dropping, because of work, school and other obligations. The health values that were responded to with advices and campaigns are therefore not permanent in their travel behaviour. Without a specific health threat, such as a pandemic, people fall back on selfish values when making travel choices.
Biospheric and selfish Values
Leonie assures the participants of the online session that studies like this make a big difference. Travellers are demotivated to travel by public transport during the corona crisis due to health risks. Based on research, we can say with confidence that “the campaigns that promoted this have had no lasting effect on travel behaviour“, Leonie says. After the corona crisis, we naturally want travellers to get back on the trains from a sustainability perspective. MOCOLODO shows that biospheric values (the will to protect the environment and nature) have little or no influence on travel behaviour and that the selfish values remain prominent. Public transport must therefore strategically position itself as a cheap and fast option to motivate sustainable behaviour based on the selfish values of people.
Watch the full workshop (in Dutch) by Leonie Vrieling and Jorinde ten Hoeve about the MOCOLODO research during the New Energy Forum below.
About the New Energy Forum
On Thursday 24 June 2021, a new annual festival about energy transition and sustainable mobility took place: the New Energy Forum. During this hybrid festival, day chairman Diederik Jekel took visitors and viewers into the smart, new world of energy and mobility. The festival is an initiative of Hive.Mobility, EnTranCe Center of Expertise Energy of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen and New Energy Coalition and is set up to show visitors the latest developments, share knowledge and offer inspiration. All program components of this year can be viewed via www.newenergyforum.nl.