Using Behavioural Psychology to Plan, Market and Manage Transport

Using Behavioural Psychology to Plan, Market and Manage Transport


A Hilliam, Derek Halden Consultancy, UK; J Farrington, Aberdeen University, UK


This paper describes how personal construct psychology techniques were adapted for use in the transport sector to help stimulate attitude change and manage behaviour change.


Prior to the advent of mass car ownership, viable public transport services could be provided in most rural areas. With car ownership and use increasingly being the first choice of even elderly people, those households which depend on public transport are finding themselves unable to access essential services and facilities. Even amongst car owners, rural residents spend more on transport, travel further and are less dependent on public transport than those in urban areas.

Traditional methods of transport delivery are decreasingly successful, with unsustainable rural bus subsidies failing to meet the needs of the population. New approaches are emerging with systems that are more needs and demand responsive. However these require closer engagement between users and providers, so new techniques are required to manage this process of joint working. The CO-OPERATE project was funded under the UK Future Integrated Transport Research programme managed by the Department for Transport, to identify techniques to foster this joint working. This paper describes the CO-OPERATE approach and in particular how personal construct psychology techniques were adapted for use in the transport sector to help stimulate attitude change and manage behaviour change.

Techniques for greater user participation in transport decisions are increasingly being applied in urban transport but the cross-over to rural areas has been weak. Individualised marketing, business travel planning, travel information and joint resourcing of delivery have an equally important role to play in rural transport management for improving accessibility as they do in urban areas for travel demand management.

The multi-layered approach to meeting these needs drew lessons and best practice from a wide variety of sources, including marketing, psychology, stakeholder engagement and rural transport management. To test the emerging techniques a pilot area was used in North East Scotland to analyse user perceptions within a situation of change in rural transport management.
From this basis, the research developed a toolkit which has the potential to be applied across Europe for involving more stakeholders in improving rural accessibility.
Specifically, the research highlights gaps, opportunities and routes to develop a co-ordinated approach which can:
· Help communities overcome obstacles and clarify their needs.
· Build capacity within communities to solve their own needs.
· Identify travel awareness/marketing techniques to develop communication networks on rural accessibility.
· Understand travel perceptions and behaviour to inform dialogue between users and providers using Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) techniques.

Through systematic analysis of the distinct motivations of the major stakeholders involved in rural transport, this approach shows how public agencies, commercial operators, Community Transport operators, and rural population and businesses can work constructively together to enhance transport developments in rural areas.

The research also identified areas where organisational culture change, developments in administration and funding, enhancements in marketing, routes to increase understanding of local perceptions of public transport, and stimulation of local and community based initiatives can all be used to build bridges to co-operation between stakeholders to enhance service delivery. Key examples of these bridges around which these developments can occur are
· Targeted marketing through trusted sources
· Development of local hubs and multi-function centres to promote networking and facilitate joint delivery
· Stimulation and practical support for of community based initiatives
· Integration of public services

It is hoped this new toolkit can be used to inform both the understanding for change and actual developments to improve accessibility.

The funding for this research was provided by the UK Department for Transport and the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and it was conducted by a team from the University of Aberdeen, DHC, and University College London.


Association for European Transport