Characteristics of mobile workers in three regions

The questions in the survey were related to the following themes (N = number of questions): respondents’ background (N=18), commuting environment (N = 5), present modes of commuting (N = 13), satisfaction and motivations (N = 5), and future modes of commuting (N = 3). The questionnaire was issued in October 2016 – February 2017, and the data was collected in December 2016 – May 2017. Hence, there are three identical (region-adjusted) commuting surveys in Austria (N = 531) focusing the whole country, Finland (N = 523) focusing on the Finnish Growth Corridor and Switzerland (N = 549) focusing on Basel Region. The three focus regions are characteristically different as the purpose of the survey was to examine and compare different national contexts in commuting, mobility and the related services.

Despite the different geographic and cultural contexts and geographic foci of the three surveys, the samples show high similarity across the regions and the distributions with respect to the background factors. A typical number of cars in a household is one car in each region/country with an average of 45 % of the respondents. The overall accessibility to a car is, however, much higher as 91 % of the households in Austria, 80 % in GCF and 70 % in Basel Region owns at least one car. As to the household monthly net income, the Swiss respondents outperform the Finns and Austrians. The monthly net income among the Swiss/Basel commuters is about double higher than in the other regions/countries.

As with the background factors, the regions show high similarity and the distributions of the categories featuring the commuting environments. Of the different types of public transport stations, a bus stop is dominantly within the walking distance of the traveller in all regions/countries (90 % of the respondents on average). The dominant place of work among the respondents in all regions/countries is the primary office varying between 78 % (Austria) and 89 % (Basel Region).  Surprisingly, given the marked differences in the geographic sizes of the countries, the regions are relatively similar in the commuting distances and the distribution of lengths in each percentile. Half of the respondents have a commuting distance of less than 10 km.

On average, 60 % of the respondents have an “access to private car” while less than 10 % of the respondents have access to a company car. For the most important means of transport used for commuting, GCF and Austria show similar patterns. In Austria and Finland, “car-driver” is the dominant mode (over 50%), whereas “walking” is next important with around 20 %. In Basel Region instead, “bike”, “train”, and “tram” are equally important with 30 % among the respondents.

Specific patterns between the regions characterise the utilisation of digital services related to commuting. Basel Region is the most advanced in the “use of Internet for commuting info seeking” whereas in Finland and Austria show similar patterns (the relative shares of high use/moderate/low use). The high share of public transport in commuting in Basel Region also shows up in the scope and intensity of the various “activities during commuting”, in which Basel Region ranks the first.

Regarding satisfaction and motivations related to the present modes of commuting, i.e., what is appreciated and what is not, there are distinct commonalities across the regions but also region-specific differences. Overall, GFC commuters are the most satisfied and the Austrian commuters the least satisfied with their present modes of commuting. On aggregate, we found that commuters are satisfied with their present mode of mobility: more than 80 % are satisfied or very satisfied. Based on the ANOVA tests, there are no interdependencies between the levels of satisfaction and the modes of mobility. Dissatisfaction is not associated with specific modes of mobility either. The most significant drivers to encourage commuters to use more public transport are: 1) more frequent service, 2) decreased travel time, 3) cheaper tickets, 4) better connecting services, 5) tickets provided by the employer and 6) improved reliability of public transport.

It is very common to combine other activities to commuting. Shopping is by far the most common: nearly 80 % of the respondents combine shopping with commuting often or sometimes. Also, social activities, leisure or sports or using public services are combined with commuting trips at least sometimes. Education (17 %) and picking-up someone (15 %) are less common activities.

Of the two most prominent reasons for using a private car, the commuters have a shared view across the three regions. The highest valued advantages of using a private vehicle are flexibility and speed of travel. On the other hand, the lowest ranking reasons are an environmental concern, transport of other people, and avoidance of traffic jams. As expected, the rationales for using public transport are very different from those of using private cars. In general, environmental concern is the most often mentioned motivation among the commuters to use public transport. The second most important rationale is price, implying low costs of commuting. The survey results indicate that the most important enablers to increase public transport are more or less the same across the three regions. Ticket prices, better connecting services, decreased waiting time and more frequent services are all pragmatic enablers related to the higher efficiency and service intensity of public transport and the travel chains. There are, however, regional variances, which may indicate impacts of different tariff policies and the efficiency of public transport.

The respondents in all regions and countries were quite suspicious of the new modes of commuting (ride sharing, car sharing, shared on-demand services, bike etc.). This result is consistent with commuters’ relatively high satisfaction with their current transport means. Another potential explanation is that many commuters – or people more generally – are not fully aware of the emerging commuting modes and therefore they cannot yet consider them as viable alternatives.

Next: Profiles of commuting groups

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