When thinking about whether or not people are likely to use ride-sharing, or automated vehicles, it’s easy to think that concerns such as safety, or cost will influence whether or not the public will change from their current habits to adopting new ones.
However, as I’ve been floating around Move2020 today and seeing all the ride sharing services and MaaS platforms that are in existence, I’ve been thinking that there’s something else going on.
At another recent event, Jess Oppetit from Viavan talked about the barrier to uptake for their services being about having to download an app. If you’re smart phone savvy and don’t mind testing out new apps, then you’ll be more likely to use their services – and if you’re not, then perhaps you won’t. But again, I think it’s about more than that. I think it’s about whether you are used to planning your travel, or whether you just jump in the car.
For those of us who live in London, planning your travel is a daily activity. You check the buses and the tubes, you plan which combination of transport you’ll take you compare prices for different options, you think about whether you want to walk on your route or avoid it etc. etc. This kind of individual transport planning has become pretty normalised for many people.
However, in most areas of the UK, including most cities, this kind of planning just isn’t available, or isn’t worth it. There aren’t enough public transport options, or linked up services to be able to do so. But not only that, as most people drive, they don’t see the need. They might plug in a different trip into Waze to check which route to take, or prepare themselves for a longer journey if there are roadworks, but they have already made their decision about the mode of transport their taking. In fact, it’s a decision they’ve already taken for most journey’s they’ll take in the future – they’ve have a car that they’re used to using, so why would they want to make a daily decision about whether that’s the best way for them to get around? There are so many other things to decide in our daily lives, knocking one off the list and just jumping in the car when you want, to go wherever you want, by whichever route you want, is surely more preferable than having to plan all that out, and make numerous decisions between an ever-increasing array of possible alternatives.
So when we’re thinking about how to encourage people out of their cars, we might need to think about how to help them plan their journey, and reducing the number of choices they have to make each time they want to do so.
For more thoughts and findings on public attitudes and behaviours towards future mobility questions, check out our work with the Department for Transport and Innovate UK or get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org