, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 437–453 | Cite as

Shifting towards environment-friendly modes: profiling travelers using Q-methodology

  • Mario Cools
  • Elke Moons
  • Brecht Janssens
  • Geert Wets


Due to a variety of reasons, the previous century is characterized by an extraordinary growth in car use that has continued into the current century. This has resulted in serious environmental repercussions. Despite technological advancements, the externalities remain an ecological threat that can not be discarded by policy makers. Therefore, it is essential that policy makers focus on reducing car use and on stimulating the shift towards more environment-friendly transport modes. In this study, Q-methodology is adopted as the technique to segment people, and to ascertain which approaches and determinants matter to medium distance travel. Segmentation is important, as policy measures will be more efficient and effective if they are fine-tuned on specific target groups. The analysis revealed that four discourses preponderate the paradigm of environmentally sustainable transport: travelers who use public transport as a dominant alternative, car-dependent travelers, travelers with a positive perception of using public transport, and travelers with a preference for car use. Concerning rational, economic motives, individuals evaluate travel time reliability as most important. To increase the reliability policy makers should consider the use of separate bus lanes and traffic light manipulation. In addition, public transport can be made even more attractive, when costs of cars are made more variable by road or congestion charging. When the s motives are discussed, the differences between the different groups of travelers were more pronounced. Next to increasing the benefits of using public transport, policy makers should also pay attention to removing psycho-social barriers.


Environment-friendly modes Profiling Q-methodology Public transport Car use 



The authors would like to thank Katrien Declercq, Els Hannes and Kris Brijs for their contribution to this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mario Cools
    • 1
  • Elke Moons
    • 1
  • Brecht Janssens
    • 1
  • Geert Wets
    • 1
  1. 1.Transportation Research InstituteHasselt UniversityDiepenbeekBelgium

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