Peak-Car Phenomenon Revisited for Urban Areas: Microdata Analysis of Household Travel Surveys from Five European Capital Cities

This study investigates the peak-car phenomenon for the five European capital regions of Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Paris, and Vienna. Household travel survey (HTS) microdata was harmonized for the five regions and transferred to one consistent database; all time-series date back at least 20 years. Developments in car use were found to be surprisingly similar despite the substantial differences between the regions in terms of size, governance structures, built environments, transport systems, and societal framework conditions. Car use peaked earliest in Paris in the early 1990s; followed by Berlin, London, and Vienna in the late 1990s; and lastly in Copenhagen in the late 2000s. Working persons and mandatory trips were found to be the most relevant person group and trip purpose for the observed peak-car developments, both with declining overall trip numbers and a modal shift toward non-car modes. Young working persons had the most significant decline with substantial cohort effects. People seem to carry forward their behavior adopted in early life-cycle stages as they age. The person groups of seniors and women both damped the peak-car effect. Shopping trips were the second most relevant trip purpose for car use: car use for this purpose was high and stable over time. This study has elaborated potentials for reducing car use in relation to person groups and trip purposes. Findings from this retrospective analysis could be used for purposefully shaping future transport systems.


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  • Accession Number: 01698891
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-01574
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Feb 14 2019 9:29AM