July 30, 2007

Survey finds Europeans want improved mobility, but want to keep their cars

Brussels, Belgium – Although the private car remains the main mode of transportation for European Union (EU) citizens, there is a great awareness of its impact on the environment and traffic situations, says a recent Eurobarometer opinion survey. Most Europeans surveyed favour measures to promote the use of public transport and encourage a more sustainable mobility.

“This survey clearly shows that mobility is an essential part of EU citizens’ lives and that they expect a high quality and reliable transport system,” says Jacques Barrot, European Commission Vice-President in charge of transport. “We are working for a transport policy focused clearly on our citizens’ needs and expectations as reflected by this poll: better environmental protection, higher levels of safety, less congestion in big cities and stronger rights as consumers.”

The study found that 81 percent of EU citizens have a car in their household. The majority of EU citizens – 51 percent – name the car as their main mode of transport, followed by public transport (21 percent), walking (21 percent) and motorbike (2 percent). Improvements to public transportation, such as a better schedule (29 percent) and better connections to regular destinations (28 percent) might encourage those citizens who primarily use their cars for daily mobility to drive less often. However, 22 percent of car users said that under no circumstances would they use their cars less.

The vast majority (78 percent) said that the type of car and the way people use them have an important impact on the environment; 35 percent said they believe the best way to reverse the rise of CO2 emissions would be to permit only the sale of less-polluting vehicles, while another 30 per cent said CO2 emissions could be reduced most efficiently by promoting fuel-efficient vehicles through tax incentives.

When asked what method they had used in the past year to save fuel, 57 percent adapted their driving style; 56 percent walked or cycled more; 26 percent used public transport more often; 25 percent changed to a more fuel-efficient car; and 16 percent used no methods indicated in the questionnaire. Of those asked, 54 percent said they were willing to pay more money to use a less-polluting mode of transport.

Regarding traffic, 90 percent felt that the traffic situation should be improved in their area; 49 percent suggested a better public transport system; 17 percent thought limitations in city centres; 17 percent said speed limits; and 5 percent said charges for road usage.

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