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Independent Transport Commission: "On the Move: Exploring attitudes to road and rail travel in Britain"

"... On the issue of modal choice, the findings are striking in demonstrating that economic factors still remain a strong determinant of travel choice, with younger people especially concerned about the high cost of using a car relative to their income, including issues such as insurance, parking and learning to drive. The impact of concessionary and advance fares on public transport use is also an important driver, especially for younger people and pensioners. At the same time, location appears to be a key determinant for modal choice, due to the poor provision of public transport in rural areas. This is particularly the case with older people in rural areas who feel that they need to retain a car in order to preserve their independence.

"Modal choice also varies significantly across the different groups. The research demonstrates that young people are ‘falling out of love’ with the car, and place greater weight on alternative consumer products, while older people see the car as an important part of their lifestyle. At the same time, improvements in the accessibility of the public transport system are encouraging car owners to make more varied modal choices.

"... At the core of this research has been the desire to understand whether these attitudes are temporary or permanent features affecting travel behaviour. By comparing different age groups, it has been possible to see that there remain ‘tipping points’ in peoples’ lives at which point modal choice shifts. Such tipping points include starting a family, now more common in one’s 30s, at which point car ownership becomes more desirable; and also retirement, which often results in downsizing from a two to one car household.

"In spite of these factors, it is evident that across all groups we are seeing a rise in utilitarian attitudes towards car travel, which indicates that car ownership is likely to increasingly shift towards new forms of car access, such as car hire and car clubs. An equally significant factor pointing towards more permanent changes in attitudes is the way in which use of public transport modes when young increases the likelihood of continuing to use these later in life."

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