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Travel mode use, travel mode shift and subjective well-being: Overview of theories, empirical findings and policy implications

Kapitel i bok
Författare Dick Ettema
Margareta Friman
Tommy Gärling
Publicerad i Wang D. & He S. (eds.). Mobility, sociability and wellbeing of urban living
Sidor 129-150
ISBN 978-3-662-48183-7
Förlag Springer
Förlagsort Berlin
Publiceringsår 2016
Publicerad vid
Sidor 129-150
Språk en
Ämnesord Travel mode, Well-being, Policy
Ämneskategorier Tillämpad psykologi


This chapter discusses how travel by different travel modes is related to primarily subjective well-being but also to health or physical well-being. Studies carried out in different geographic contexts consistently show that satisfaction with active travel modes is higher than travel by car and public transport, and that satisfaction with travel is lowest for different forms of public transport. These differences are shown to be explained by a variety of factors, which stem from fundamental differences between the travel modes in terms of the intensity of physical activity, mental involvement in the act of travel itself, exposure to and interaction with the vehicle and the wider travel surroundings, and the degree of control over travel circumstances. Taken together, the overview suggests that active modes are an attractive alternative to car travel. Public transport can be a good alternative to car travel, if requirements of seat availability, accessibility, safety, and cleanliness are met. Regarding the shift from one travel mode to another, some evidence indicates that most car commuters, when switching to public transport, experience lower satisfaction with travel by car. Yet, those who experience public transport more positive than car are likely to keep using it. Other evidence suggests, however, that car commuters’ experience of public transport is better than they anticipate, but that they tend to “forget” this after some time. Switchers from car to active travel on average report higher levels of subjective well-being after the switch. Policies aimed at promoting the use of more sustainable modes should recognize that heterogeneity exists between travelers, and aim at targeting those with positive attitudes toward changing to active modes and public transport. Future research should address the dynamics in experienced travel satisfaction and mode choice.

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