Commuting Trips in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona: Travel Behaviour, Socio-environmental Impacts and Policy Assessment

Commuting Trips in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona: Travel Behaviour, Socio-environmental Impacts and Policy Assessment


Maite Perez-Perez, Institut D'Estudis Regionals I Metropolitans De Barcelona (IERMB), Nuria Perez-Sans, Institut D'Estudis Regionals I Metropolitans De Barcelona (IERMB), Gemma Sole, Institut D'Estudis Regionals I Metropolitans De Barcelona (IERMB)


This article aims to study the consequences commuting mobility in the Barcelona area based on the most recent data available. Besides, analyses public policies implemented in order to consider new strategies to promote a more sustainable modal share.


The impact of commuting trips has been discussed for some time. Their dependence on motorized modes is related to many social and environmental impacts. This article aims to study the consequences of this mobility, based on the most recent data available; also, analyse public policies implemented in the metropolitan area of Barcelona; finally, consider strategies to promote a more sustainable modal share according to the dimension of the problem and the assessment of implemented policies.
Most data used in this article has been obtained from the Database of metropolitan mobility 2011/2013. This database has been built as a tool to develop recent transportation projects on a metropolitan scale. It contains a working fusion of recent mobility surveys made by the metropolitan authorities. The sample survey collects information from about 28,200 individuals for 3.24 million inhabitants and 636 km2. The information collected refers to the daily trips of citizens and its description from variables such as trip purpose, mode of transport, time, origin and destination, etc. This data also includes travel behaviours in relation to socio-demographical factors and the opinion of citizens regarding metropolitan mobility. This database has been used also to calculate the environmental impact of commuting trips in regard to other trip purposes. For each motorised trip of the database, a measure of distance, time, energy consumption and emissions (CO2, NOX NO2 and PM10) has been assigned, in order to understand the environmental impact of these trips taking several variables that mobility surveys enables (social profiles, purpose trip, mode of transport, etc.) into account.
Besides, we have used other sources of information such as census drivers, work-related traffic accident, as well as data from the Survey on Living Conditions and Habits of the Population 2011. This survey allows to relate socioeconomic information with the workplace location and the mode of transport used. In order to explain current policies and their effectiveness the initiatives implemented by authorities, based on monitoring reports of major transport and mobility plans at different scales have been researched.
The information available draws some interesting results. Residents in the metropolitan area made more journeys for personal reasons (any other purpose) than work purpose. But the characteristics of this type of mobility amplify its environmental impacts. That is, considering the types of routes, distances, car occupancy and modes of transport used, although commuting trips comprise 23% of daily trips, their impacts are located around 49% of the contaminant emissions and the energy consumption. This data also shows how the patterns of commuting mobility of employees influence the modal share of their personal trips. Another highlighted result is the high flows to and from Barcelona. Of the 1.8 million of intercity flows that occur in metropolitan area, 61% have as origin and destination the city of Barcelona. Thus, although the modal share of public transport is high (53%) we must take into account that 45% of private vehicle results in half a million daily trips.
Regarding the policies promoted, despite numerous initiatives have been launched, these are mainly focused on industrial estates and there is still no cross-cutting strategy that affects most of the jobs. Besides, company mobility plans have not always implemented planned proposals or monitored the objectives. Finally, we analyse strategies that can be useful to define future policies in coming years. Among others, structural improvements are needed in relation to infrastructure and public transport services and also new proposals in vehicle demand management (like car park management). It is necessary to also consider new procedures from which to ensure the involvement of employers and expand environmental taxation. It is also necessary to work toward defining a social competitive fare of public transport for commuters.
The results from the data analysis and policy assessment enables us to focus future policies related to commuting trips in Barcelona in order to introduce new approaches about metropolitan mobility strategies.


Association for European Transport