Växjö Municipality carried out a project called Test Travellers targeting car commuters. The project aimed to attract new users for public transport and to improve knowledge upon car commuters view of the public transport and to gain knowledge on possible changes in their views and behaviour.
Background & Objectives
Although the service of public transport is good on most distances many commuters choose to use the car for their daily travels to work (From Rottne and Braås there are approximately 20 regular services on weekdays to Växjö). The aim of the described project was, apart from attracting new travellers to the public transport system, to gain more knowledge upon the car commuters view of the public transport and to see if their views would change after a time period as bus commuter.
During the winter of 2003 the Mobility Office in Växjö Municipality carried out a project called Test Travellers in co-operation with the public transport company in the county of Kronoberg. The project had a duration of two months and targeted inhabitants in Rottne and Braås.
To find the Test Travellers the Mobility Office spread 900 leaflets and posted 45 bills in Rottne and Braås during December 2002 and January 2003. Also, the real estate company, Vidingehem, distributed a large number of leaflets together with their rent notices. Apart from this an ad was inserted in the local information paper "Brasan" in Braås.Altogether 45 inhabitants from Rottne and Braås joined the project. Of the applicants those who never or very seldom used the public transport were chosen as Test Travellers.The chosen Test Travellers obtained monthly tickets and timetables from the public transport company. Apart from this no instructions were given to the Test Travellers. The idea was that the Test Travellers themselves should solve possible problems and find the advantages and disadvantages with bus commuting to work. As a "service in return" the Test Travellers answered to three questionnaires; one before the test period, one in the middle, and one after.
The results of the project:
As a matter of course the sample of 28 Test Travellers is too small to draw any scientific conclusions, but it gives a picture of how 28 habitual car commuters experienced bus commuting instead of car commuting.
Below you will find some of the answers from the Test Travellers’ questionnaires.
Is the bus on time?
The answers to this question are in some extent unambiguous. The Test Travellers think that the timetables are kept much better than they thought before the project period.
In the questionnaire prior to the bus commuting 50 per cent answered that it could be crowded on the buses sometimes. In the second questionnaire the value had diminished by 12 percentage points.
In the question how simple or difficult the Test Travellers found it to understand the timetable 50 per cent of the Travellers found it simple in the first questionnaire. In the second questionnaire the answers had split both towards the answer that the timetable was very simple to understand (increase with 11 percentage points) and that it was difficult to read (increase with 14 percentage points). With other words no conclusion can be drawn that it is easier to read the timetable after a period as bus commuter.
In the third questionnaire, which was distributed after the project period, the Test Travellers answered the question if the public transport met their expectations. Ninety-three per cent of the Test Travellers answered that the public transports were better or somewhat better than they had expected.
The project and the concept with Test Travellers have worked out well from an environmental point of view. During the project period the Test Travellers reduced their emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide with 7 tonnes or 250 kilos per person by choosing the bus instead of the car. The emissions of the buses have been included in the calculations. Some of the Test Travellers have even said that they will continue to commute with bus after the project period. as stated in the third questionnaire, their new behaviour will render quite new income to the Public Transport Company in the county of Kronoberg.
Economic gains of the project:
The majority of the Test Travellers did never or very seldom use the public transport beforethe project period. Roughly their travels were estimated to ca 5,600 SEK/year (approx. 600 €/year) . On the assumption that some of the Test Travellers will continue to travel with bus, their new behaviour will also render new income to the Public Transport Company in the County of Kronoberg.