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(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Israel is headed for better public transportation. That was the message coming out of Jerusalem last week. How do Europeans feel about their commuting?
Although the private car remains the main mode of transport for EU citizens, there is great awareness about its impact on the environment and the traffic situation. According to a recent Eurobarometer opinion survey released last month, most Europeans favor measures to promote the use of public transport and encourage a more sustainable mobility. The survey also revealed citizens' attitudes towards air transport security and air passenger rights.
The Eurobarometer survey covered all 27 Member States of the European Union on a randomly selected sample of around 26,000 individuals on issues related to EU Transport Policy, including urban transport, environmental and traffic aspects, flight safety and passenger rights.
The survey was commissioned by the Directorate-General for Energy & Transport of the European Commission, carried out under the Flash Eurobarometer framework and coordinated by The Gallup Organization.
The study was designed primarily to follow up the car and other transport usage patterns and to understand to what extent citizens link the car type and its usage to the environment and to the traffic situation.
Most EU citizens have a car in their household of which they are the primary driver (49%). Those in the new Member States were significantly more likely to answer that they do not have a car in their household. Considering the main mode of personal mobility, the survey revealed that motorized individual transport is the most widespread in the EU (53%), followed by non-motorized individual transport (23%) while the least popular mode is using public (or community) transport (21%).
Considering potential changes to the public transportation system that might encourage more people to use it, respondents who primarily use a car answered that a better schedule and better connections would most likely encourage them to use public transportation and to drive less frequently. Twenty-two percent of primary car users said they would not change their attitudes regardless of any changes to the public transportation system.
Cars and the environment
The vast majority of EU citizens (about eight out of 10) share the opinion that the type of car and the way people use them have an important impact on the environment in the respondent's area. The best way to reverse the rise of CO2 emissions is to allow only the sales of less polluting vehicles. Among regular car drivers, the highest proportion tried to save fuel by adapting their driving style. On an average, citizens in Luxembourg have utilized most of the listed possible strategies to save fuel during the past year. They were followed by the Germans, the Austrians, the Slovenians and the Czechs. The citizens in Estonia and Cyprus are at the end of this hierarchy of countries.
Three in four (74%) EU citizens are of the opinion that the type of cars and the way people use them have a significant influence on the traffic situation in their immediate area, as well. The vast majority (90%) are of the opinion that the traffic situation in their area should be improved. Of this 90%, about half (49%) think that a better public transport system is the best way to address this issue.
Costs of damaging the environment
A slim majority of EU citizens are prepared to pay more to use less polluting transport (54%), but only a small minority is ready to pay a more than 10% increase (9%). The majority, six out of 10 respondents, do not agree with the statement that all road users should pay for congestion and environmental damage through road tolls. Most EU citizens support spending the money collected from road users on the improvement of public transport (40%). Slightly fewer respondents favor the improvement of road-related infrastructures (36%), and using these funds as general public expenditure is the least popular option (17%). Generally, respondents in old Member States are more likely to favor an investment in public transportation. Those in newer Member States are more likely to favor the improvement of road-related infrastructures.
Flight safety and passenger rights
A large number of the citizens in the EU (38%) responded that they seldom fly and are thus not really competent to answer questions concerning security controls at airports. The majority of informed respondents (61%) consider airport security controls appropriate, one-quarter (24%) find it insufficient and only 16% think they are excessive. There are a great proportion of citizens who are not aware of the rights of passengers at airports in the EU (49%). Among them, 17% said they were not aware of these rights in spite of the fact that they do travel by plane. At the same time, 46% of the EU citizens were informed about the rights of passengers at airports in EU territory. Citizens not aware of the rights of air passengers in spite of the fact that they travel by plane are more likely to be found in the old than in the newer Member States (20% vs 6%).
The author is head of the International Department at the Joseph Shem-Tov law firm.