Breaking Through Habitual Behaviour - is Car Sharing an Ins~maent for Reducing Car Use?
MEIJKAMP R, Technical University of Delft and AARTS H, Technical University of Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Car Sharing is an innovative and emerging concept that raises large interests from many societal actors, like policy makers, entrepreneurs, consumer organisations and the individual consumers. Car Sharing is basically a service that offers rental cars as
Car Sharing is an innovative and emerging concept that raises large interests from many societal actors, like policy makers, entrepreneurs, consumer organisations and the individual consumers. Car Sharing is basically a service that offers rental cars as an alternative to the privately owned car. The service is aimed at providing access to and utilisation of a car whenever necessary. The Car Sharing concept relies on a new organisation structure for the car system. The car is no more the users' property, but it is owned by an organisation, the fleet manager. This fleet manager provides all its clients with a car, whenever they need one.
The focal interest in the concept can be explained by the rather inefficient use of the privately owned car in western societies. Although cars in the Netherlands are relatively frequently used, on the average, they are occupied only 72 minutes a day. (CBS, 1992) The fact that many ears are not intensively used (despite their large fixed costs) and the fact that these cars put a high pressure on (scarce) space, especially in crowded cities, make the privately owned car a rather inefficient solution for the need for individual mobility.
For the individual consumer the relevance of Car Sharing schemes can be found in some relative advantages of this alternative to the private car: Sharing cars is far more cheaper for those who do not frequently use their car. The consumer has to pay only for the use of the car, whenever needed. And the service supplier takes care for (the costs of) the repairs, maintenance, the insurance and the taxation.
The policy relevance is basically twofold. First, by means of Car Sharing the number of cars for private purposes could be reduced significantly. Especially in crowded innercities this means a positive contribution to the quality of living within cities and a more efficient utilisation of scarce space. Secondly, Car Sharing is assumed to have a positive effect on the mobility behaviour of its participants. Dutch (Meijkamp and Douma, 1995) as well as other international, tentative studies (Muheim, 1992; Hauke, 1993; Petersen, 1993; Baum ea.., 1994), most of them small scale, suggest a reductional effect on car use and on modal split towards relatively more public transport use. However, until now it remains unclear how these effects can be explained, and what variables influence the variations.
The present research aims, to examine the effects on mobility behaviour, and especially on car use of those who already have adopted Car Sharing. Through a survey research among participants of Car Sharing schemes in the Netherlands the behavioural effects have been established. The present paper serves basically three goals. First, we will explain the psychological antecedents of the adoption of the Car Sharing system by testing a model that describes the adoption. Secondly we will present the reported changes on mobility behaviour among the present participants in Car Sharing systems. And thirdly, the effects on mobility behaviour of those participants will be discussed for exploratory reasons by means of the self reported effects on mobility behaviour.
In general, the reported aggregate changes on mobility behaviour in the above mentioned studies have been confirmed. Therefore possible" explanations for the reported changes on mobility behaviour have been developed and investigated by making an inventory on the perceptions of the participants regarding the effects of Car Sharing on their own mobility behaviour.
In search for a plausible explanation for the changes on mobility behaviour one basic assumption is guiding: If Car Sharing is used as an alternative to the private car, the cognitive process involved in travel mode choices, is being influenced. Since, Car Sharing requires planned car use, and prevents from spontaneous car usage, traveI mode decisions are forced to be taken more deliberately. Habitual behaviour and habitual car use, as a consequence is therefore less likely, instead, a deliberate choice between the various travel modes is being stimulated.
The effects on mobility behaviour of the participants will however only occur if Car Sharing has been adopted. People, who have build up a strong car habit, won't adopt Car Sharing at all, due to the absence of making deliberate travel mode choices. Hence, the effects might only be expected among people that didn't built up a strong car habit. In the remainder of the introductional sections we will elaborate on the main issues relevant for understanding the adoption of Car Sharing systems and their potential effects. First the focus is on Car Sharing in the current practice. Next, we will discuss some theoretical issues as to the way in which the adoption of Car Sharing may be modelled, and the factors that may play an important role in this model. In the paper a discussion regarding reasoned action versus habit formation will be set up. After that, we present our conceptual model, and proceed with empirical data concerning a test of the model, and the subsequent effects of Car Sharing on relevant mobility parameters. Based on the findings in the empirical study, some implications of the analysis for transport policy regarding Car Sharing will be discussed.
Association for European Transport