Travel competence: Empowering travellers

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 2017, 44 pp. 63 - 75
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© 2016 In order to make better use of the available transport options, travel behaviour change programmes have been introduced to educate travellers about non-car modes. They aim to encourage people to use public transport, cycling and walking more often, in order to produce a better balanced transport system. Nevertheless, the private motor vehicle is here to stay. It is the most appropriate mode for some trips, albeit not necessarily all those for which it is currently used. However, research shows that motorists who have their erroneous expectations of public transport corrected are more likely to use it thereafter, than those who do not. This suggests that to maximise the use of modes other than the car, motorists need up to date knowledge and experience of them. Travel behaviour change programmes encourage people to expand their experience of the non-car modes but are designed to correct the overuse of cars rather than prevent it. In this paper, the phrase ‘travel competence’ is used to describe the abilities which will allow travellers to make informed choices amongst all the available modes. This will discourage initial excessive use of the car. The paper then discusses the advantages of travel competence, the role that government and transport operators have in enhancing travel competence and minimising the skills required to use any mode. The possibility of utilising the level of travel competence required to use a transport system as a measure of its quality is discussed.
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