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Potential for mode transfer of short trips

United Kingdom
United Kingdom Flag
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Active mobility


Background & Policy context

This project determines, through detailed interview surveys of a substantial sample of travellers, the number of short trips made by car, the circumstances affecting their choice of mode, and how many trips might have been made by other modes e.g. walking, cycling or public transport. It is forming recommendations on the measures required to induce a significant modal change. This is one of a group of projects that will increase the knowledge base about walking as a transport mode.


The objective of this research project is to contribute to Government policy to encourage walking, cycling and the use of the bus instead of the car for short trips (less than 5 miles or 8 kilometres).


The approach adopted in this research was to identify a number of short trips by car and then discuss with those making them, the alternatives that they might adopt. A two-stage survey procedure was adopted. The first stage involved collecting information on all trips made over a two-day period by 1117 households in five areas of the country (London, Leeds, Ipswich, Hereford and Dorset). The second stage involved detailed discussions about alternatives for the short car trips made during the two days by 377 of those who made short car trips.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Department for Transport
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


Alternatives to the car were identified for nearly 80% of short car trips, with business and work trips the least likely to transfer, and taking children to school the most likely. Of all the short trips by car, about 31% could transfer to walk, 31% could go by bus and 7% could be cycled. The single policy intervention that would do most to attract people out of their cars is to improve bus services that could attract up to 21% of car drivers, particularly increasing route coverage and frequency. There is little in the nature of specific policy intervention that could encourage more walking or cycling, so it would require personal initiative. Hence there is a need to make car drivers more aware of the benefits of walking and cycling.

Policy implications

This research should help to reduce the number of short trips by car, and increase the use of other less harmful modes. More specifically, the following recommendations were made:

• Bus services should be improved in terms of route coverage, frequency and hours of service;

• Car drivers should be made more aware of bus services, both specific services and generally;

• The perception of the safety and security of children travelling unaccompanied should be increased, for example, by re-introducing bus conductors;

• Taxi-sharing should be encouraged;

• Demand-responsive public transport services should be introduced especially for shopping and social trips;

• Car drivers should be made more aware of the benefits of walking and cycling;

• Walking and cycle facilities should be improved, including better street lighting;

• Employers should be encouraged to provide showering and changing facilities for their employees who cycle and walk;

• The effects of bad weather should be ameliorated by installing more bus shelters and improving the reliability of bus services;

• Neighbourhood planning should be used to help develop more local shops and facilities;

• Delivery services from shops should be expanded in a way that ensures that one van trip replaces several car trips.

• Actions should be targeted where they are most likely to be effective:

- at those using cars to take children to school rather than those on work and business trips;

- at the young rather than the old;

- in urban areas rather than rural;

- at those with multiple car ownership (and therefore those with higher incomes);

- at those making rather longer short trips rather than those making very short trips;

- at young males for cycling initiatives.






Key Findings

No results directly relevant to this theme. However, please note that some findings relevant to the project's key theme (User Aspects) re generically applicable.



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