Shifting Towards Environment-Friendly Modes: Profiling Travelers Using Q-Methodology

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

policy - environment


Travel behavior, Social factors, Q-methodology, Psychosocial aspects, Psychological effects, Psychological aspects, Modal shift, Market segmented groups


It is essential that policy makers try to reduce automobile use and stimulate the shift towards more environmentally-friendly transportation modes. This study adopts Q-methodology as a technique to segment people, and to ascertain which approaches and determinants matter to medium-distance (10-100 km) travel. The analysis revealed that four discourses preponderate the paradigm of environmentally sustainable transport: travelers who use public transport as a dominant alternative, car-dependent travelers, travelers with a positive perception of using public transport, and travelers with a preference for car use. Concerning rational, economic motives, individuals evaluate travel time reliability as most important. To increase reliability, policy makers should consider the use of separate bus lanes and traffic light manipulation. In addition, public transport can be made even more attractive, when costs of cars are made more variable by road or congestion charging. When the subjective motives are considered, the differences between the different groups of travelers were more pronounced. These differences provide a solid social basis to further shift the modal split towards public transportation. Next to increasing the benefits of using public transport, policy makers should also pay attention to removing psycho-social barriers. The findings also highlight the importance of segmentation, since policy measures will be more efficient and effective if they are fine-tuned for specific target groups.