Urban Transport Performance and Policy: Results of a European Perception Survey

Urban Transport Performance and Policy: Results of a European Perception Survey


A Winder, ISIS, FR; K El-Araby, Dorsch Consult, DE


The paper presents the results of a public perception survey of citizens in urban areas across the EU-15. It illustrates how effective and successful the public perceive urban transport policies to be, and where their concerns and priorities lie.


This paper provides an overview of the results of an EU-15 wide survey of public perceptions of urban transport policy and performance, as part of an ongoing European Commission (Directorate-General for Energy and Transport) funded project entitled "National Policy Frameworks for Urban Transport". This survey endeavours to provide a picture of how effective and successful the general public in urban areas of Europe perceive national policies and activities relating to urban transport to be, and where their concerns and priorities lie.

This task comprised the definition of around eight indicators on public perception, covering aspects such as urban transport inputs, policy outputs and real outcomes. The data collection exercise involved conducting 200 telephone interviews per Member State for the EU-15 (i.e. 3000 interviews in total). The goal is to provide a rough snapshot of public opinion on a European basis, rather than a comprehensive and statistically representative survey.

The paper describes the interview questionnaire, including the process of devising it and the fieldwork process, and provides an analysis of the survey results. This includes a simple overview of the results on a question-by-question basis and also a cross-analysis between different questions and for different groups of respondents (by country, age, size of urban area, use of transport modes, etc).

Key results at the European level, which will be described in detail in the paper, are:
- A majority of respondents consider congestion, accidents and pollution in urban areas to be a problem, and in around half of cases, a serious one.
- Regarding the use of fossil fuels (petrol and diesel) in transport (at a national level), almost 88% consider this a problem (and most of these consider it a serious problem).
- Most respondents were dissatisfied with the way their national governments are tackling the above issues: only 28% were satisfied with their governments.
- Most respondents were however satisfied with public transport in their city, even those who do not actually use it. Overall satisfaction with public transport exceeded satisfaction with its reliability, frequency and network coverage.
- A significant majority of European respondents (over 60%) felt that the authorities responsible for transport should spend more over the next five years on improving existing roads and on provision for walking and cycling. 56% wanted to see more spending on existing public transport services and 47% wanted more spending on new public transport infrastructure. Only 35% wanted more spending on new roads and a similar number wanted to see spending on new roads reduced.
- In terms of raising additional revenue for transport investment, the split of those favouring general taxation and those favouring targeted pricing or taxation (e.g. parking charges or urban road tolls) is remarkably similar at a Europe-wide level, however this masks some significant differences between individual Member States.
- Of those who supported targeted pricing or a mixture of both, 37% preferred an urban road pricing solution, 16% preferred higher parking charges and 16% supported a mixture. 21% supported another way, such as higher fuel taxes or increased efficiency within public administrations.
- Opinions do not vary significantly between age groups and sex, but do vary according to the modes of transport used in a typical week, the country of residence of the respondent, and to some extent the size of the city or urban area in which the respondent lives.

The exercise can be seen as a useful 'snapshot' of the perception of a sample representing a wide spectrum of age, sex and wide coverage within all EU-15 Member States towards urban transport problems and issues.


Association for European Transport