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Transportation

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 329–345 | Cite as

Breaking car use habits: The effectiveness of a free one-month travelcard

  • John Thøgersen
  • Berit Møller
Article

Abstract

Based on calls for innovative ways of reducing car traffic and research indicating that car driving is often the result of habitual decision-making and choice processes, this paper reports on a field experiment designed to test a tool aimed to entice drivers to skip the habitual choice of the car and consider using—or at least trying—public transport instead. About 1,000 car drivers participated in the experiment either as experimental subjects, receiving a free one-month travelcard, or as control subjects. As predicted, the intervention had a significant impact on drivers’ use of public transport and it also neutralized the impact of car driving habits on mode choice. However, in the longer run (i.e., four months after the experiment) experimental subjects did not use public transport more than control subjects. Hence, it seems that although many car drivers choose travel mode habitually, their final choice is consistent with their informed preferences, given the current price–quality relationships of the various options.

Keywords

Car use habits Public transport Economic incentive Field experiment 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This paper is the outcome of a research project in the framework of Centre for Transport Research on environmental and health Impacts and Policy (TRIP), a multidisciplinary centre based on collaboration among scholars from a number of Danish universities and other research institutions and financed by the Danish Strategic Environmental Research Program. We are grateful to Tommy Gärling and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version. The authors own the copyright to all included material.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aarhus School of BusinessUniversity of AarhusAarhus VDenmark

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