Touristic mobility and mobility behaviors

In issue no. n°321, the magazine ESPACES published a sociological analysis by Anaïs Rocci (Project Manager at 6t) on mobility behaviours and, notably, hindrances to changes in tourism travel behaviours. Below are some excerpts from the article:

Nowadays, the car is the preferred means of transport for long-distance travel for tourism purposes. It is, all the same, a means of transport that is polluting, dangerous, etc… It is not straightforward to change user habits. To provide incentives for the use of public transport (train travel in particular), it is necessary to act across the travel chain, from the point of departure to the point of arrival, as well as on site, during the stay.

Understanding obstacles to behavioural change

Within our thesis work on obstacles to changes in behaviour, we have picked out two types of obstacles:

  • Extrinsic obstacles : these relate back to contextual and structural effects, linked with life cycles (family and professional circumstances, localisation and education effects) are well as to the array of transportation and services available and the accessibility of the localisation and destination places.
  • Instrinsic obstacles : these, in turn, relate back to lived experiences, preferences, obligations and individual perceptions on different means of transport. Users tend to be satisfied with the mode of transport they are familiar with, to be set in their ways, and not think about other ways of getting around. Once the habit is established, the breadth of possibilities is restricted. Usage becomes a reflex, the car is used systematically, without the users even thinking about an alternative solution.

While extrinsic obligations have an obvious impact on choosing a means of transport, it is intrinsic criteria that enable an understanding of emotional attachment to a mode of transport, and which make deciding against using a car difficult, or even unthinkable.

Far from contesting the theories which make means of transport choices weigh down on social and economic obligations related to income and to localisations, other, more qualitative factors must be taken into consideration to bring about changes in behaviour. Thereby, individuals are performing a strategic calculation according to an “overall cost” of travel, which is monetary, time-based, sensory (pleasure, comfort, freedom, etc) social (norms set by a group to which one belongs, influence), and psychological or cognitive (stress, fatigue, safety, autonomy, etc.).

Tourism mobility: car trip is preferred to train trip

Travel for pleasure or tourism being occasional, users are doubtless let set in rigid habits. Nevertheless, they often favour car travel, either because they retain a reflex of travelling by car and do not necessarily ponder acting differently, or whether they consider this mean of transport to be the most relevant. And, while train travel is more spontaneously planned for long-distance pleasure travel than for everyday travel, many obstacles to its usage remain.

Even where car travel is perceived as an expensive means of transport, it appears as less expensive than train travel. And where various restrictions (schedules, freedom, stops, etc) are added to a cost which is deemed excessive, users will find few reasons to opt for the train. After making the calculation themselves, or relying on internet sites which provide this information, such as Mappy or Viamichelin, users note that the train, when taken on an occasional basis, is more expensive than car travel.

Consequently, certain people prefer to prioritise direct travel by car, irrespective of the possible variations in travel time, rather than these multiple means of transport which make a trip complicated, costly, rather uncomfortable, and even stressful. Added to this are restrictions on transporting baggage, which can at times be very cumbersome (e.g. skiing equipment), between each mode of transport used, as is the need to walk, albeit a few hundred meters, with a load, in cases where there are no transport solutions to the destination within the final kilometer.

Some avenues of thought to change practices

Faced with the implications of the choice between means of transport, and the various hindrances alluded to, solutions should be delivered surrounding alternative means of transport which make using public transport easy for tourism travel.

What is at hand, more generally, is to encourage changes in mobility practices. The issue of more durable mobility is inseparable from the articulation of different means of transport, whether individual, collective, shared, public or private. The complementarity of means of travel foments the development of a multi-means mobility system, and, simultaneously, intermodal usage. Added to this is the fact of resorting to means of mobility management which aim to change behaviour (e.g.: individual marketing).”

Focus on : Personalised guidance tools to change mobility behaviours.

Personalised guidance and advice may prove necessary to encourage a genuine change in practices and in mentalities. At 6t, we implemented this type of volontary travel behaviour change program in Picardie Region (France) from 2012 to 2014 to encourage new users to travel by train. This operation consisted in monitoring a sample of volunteer motorists to incentivise them to use their car less, whether this was for their everyday travel, their leisure travel, or for both. After a diagnostic process of their practices and mobility, they were able to try the train for free for one month. Several results monitoring operations (two months, five months and over one year after the experiment) enabled an evaluation of the operation’s impact and its continuity.

The results as regards a modal shift from car usage towards train usage are significant, as 30% of people in the sample have carried on using the train regularly several times a month over one year after the experiment



To read the full article in French: “Acting across the whole transport chain to reduce the use of the car for tourism purposes” (content requiring a purchase)

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