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Breaking the habitual choice of the private car

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

In recent years, researchers have made substantial advances in demonstrating the importance of habits for the choice of modes of transport. However, the research into how such habits can be broken is much sparser.

A habit is a learned sequence of acts that have become an automatic response to specific cues and are functional in obtaining certain goals. Consequently, habitual choices of modes of transport are independent of the actor's attitude. This is an important reason why persuasive communication generally has had little success in changing transport behaviour.


The objectives are to develop intervention tools that are effective in breaking car-driving habits and that have a firm foundation in research into how habits are formed, function and change.


The project consists of two sub-projects:

  1. Assessment of the effectiveness and importance of naturally occurring events as well as promotion campaigns. Recommendations on the design of campaigns and of the planning of public transport in order to attract more passengers.
  2. Investigation of the effects of promotion campaigns, such as free public transport for one month. The investigation covers both the trial period and the time that follows.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


The project investigated possibilities for using newer research in the development of policy interventions with the aim of breaking transport habits and promoting public transport.

Besides an improved insight into habits as a key factor, the project tested an untraditional practical tool for the specific influence of habits and behaviour. However, the tool did not prove to have the expected long term effect, at least not in the investigated context.

Policy implications

The project provided useful information for planners, in particular within the public transport sector.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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