In many European countries, public opinion increasingly favours a reduction in urban car traffic to improve community life. The challenge is to convert this into action by individuals and organisations. Communication tools to change travel attitudes and behaviour are seen as part of a new integrated approach. The objectives are to increase public awareness of the impacts of traffic growth, to give information on the alternatives to car use, and to raise public acceptance of the 'hard' physical and tax measures that can stimulate change.
INPHORMM aimed to bring together existing knowledge on the use of communication tools to influence travel behaviour, evaluate the effectiveness of previous actions, and provide a general model for developing campaigns in the future.
The project compiled a review of over 120 transport information and publicity campaigns, mainly European in origin. Good practice guidelines were developed for such campaigns, targeting a range of organisations. These include recommendations for local authorities, public transport operators, major institutions and their site managers, and environmental, cycling and walking groups. Three types of campaign are described in detail - public awareness campaigns; campaigns for targeted groups and settings (such as schools and workplaces), and campaigns aimed at individual travellers and households.
The analysis of previous experiences showed that:
- Communications as part of an integrated transport plan can enable changes in travel behaviour.
- Practical advice and ongoing support are essential to maintain such changes. Complementary measures to restrain traffic may also be required.
- Among the most effective campaigns are those co-ordinated by partnerships (such as between operators, site owners and local authorities).
- There is evidence of success in carefully targeted sectors, such as schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods. Mass media campaigns targeting the general public are receiving less emphasis.
- Times of change for individuals, organisations and communities are worth targeting. Examples include people moving house or changing jobs, businesses moving site and new housing developments.
- Many organisations do not adequately assess the effects of campaigns.
Critical success factors for campaigns and programmes include:
- building support for the campaign itself;
- co-ordination between stakeholders and linking to other measures;
- providing evidence of success, both to sustain political and financial support and to fine-tune the campaign process.
The INPHORMM guidelines were tested in a pilot study in Chisinau, Moldova. This resulted in a new public transport information strategy and publications, implemented by a new unit created within the public transport authority.
The project found that co-ordination of national and local campaigns and their messages leads to greater media coverage and contributes to building a climate for change.
Information, marketing and community education programmes need to become an integral part of transport policy and planning, to raise public acceptance of other (restraint) policies and increase knowledge of travel alternatives. This includes writing campaign budgets into the broader strategy to which they relate, such as the traffic reduction or city regeneration budgets.
Good practice in the formulation of campaigns needs to be disseminated. Many organisations have failed to research the needs of their target audiences, and messages are often communicated without pre-testing. Evaluation of campaigns is often lacking.