Background: COVID19 has slowed down businesses, changed consumer behaviour, and shifted regulatory trends, bringing public life to a halt. It has had a substantial influence on mobility, as public transportation ridership has decreased and vehicle sales have decreased.
As a result, the goal of this research is to determine whether there has been a shift in mobility preferences. Because discretionary users are more prone to demonstrate shifts, the focus of this report is on them.
Methods: Potential respondents were sent a questionnaire with themes related to pre and post COVID travel choices, reduced trip frequency, and perceptions of various transportation modes via WRI\'s social media page and email. (n= 229)
Limitations: Due to travel restrictions, the survey had to be conducted online. The sample is, hence, skewed towards high income, and salaried employees.
Results: We ran Chi-square tests to identify relationships between travel preferences and age, gender, and income. The tests didn’t reveal any major correlation. However, linkages were found between age and perception of autorickshaws, and taxis. The inclination to use public transport was similarly linked to age.
A. Who are Choice users?
People with automobiles have historically been defined as discretionary users, often known as choice users. Captive users, on the other hand, are those who rely on public transportation.
A choice user has the option of driving or taking public transportation. A captive user, on the other hand, can only use public transportation.
Potential mobility could be used as a metric for comparing the edge choice users have over captive customers. While mobility can be defined as the ability to move from point A to point B, potential mobility refers to the knowledge of being able to move from point A to point B with ease.
Captive users have fewer options for movement than choice users. The asset ownership patterns of millennials have shifted. They don't buy cars even if they have the financial means to do so.
The scope of potential mobility has widened as a result of this transition. People do not need to buy cars in order to afford a car journey.
As a result, choice users should be characterised in light of their prospective mobility. A car owner has more discretionary power than a high earner who does not own a car but can afford to book an Uber, and Uber passengers have more discretionary power than someone who can only take the bus. Choice users, to put it another way, are those who have more options for getting from point A to point B.
B. Why should Choice users be studied?
Choice users are more likely to report changes in mobility habits since they have more options. Despite the perceived concerns, captive consumers do not have the options to change their mobility choices. As a result, studying choice users reveals a clearer picture of shifting mobility choices.
C. Respondent Characteristics
The survey received 229 responses. The average age of the respondents is 32 years, while their average annual income in 11,00,000 INR per annum, average annual income of India is 1,44,564 INR.53.6% of the respondents were male, while 45.5% of the respondents were female. 65% of the respondents were salaried employees, and 54.5% used to commute daily.
222 respondents chose to share their vehicle ownership details in the survey. 34% of the respondents owned neither cars nor two-wheelers, 24% owned cars, 22.5% owned two-wheelers, and 18.9% owned both cars and two-wheelers. Curiously, 36.4% of the respondents aged between 18-24 years own both two-wheelers and cars, while 35% of the respondents aged between 25 – 40 years own none.
A. Would COVID impact your mobility choices?
223 respondents shared whether COVID would have an impact on their preferred mode for commute. A whopping 83% reported that COVID would change the way they commute. While the shift bears bad news for public transport, it brings hope for active mobility. The mode split of bicycle has increased from 0.54% to 8.15%. Public Transport modes like buses, suburban trains and metro trains saw lower preference. The preference for private cars also increased from 21.83% to 41.3%. Interestingly, the preference for two-wheelers remained unchanged.
According to the survey, respondents envision themselves shifting their mobility preferences from metro railways, suburban trains, and buses to cars and bicycles. During the six months leading up to the poll, some respondents had already purchased a personal automobile. Respondents also mentioned that they may use the internet to get some services. The changeover, however, may not be permanent, since nearly half of them will return to using the services offline when it is safe to do so. Cars, bicycles, and walking were deemed the safest modes of transportation, whereas E-rickshaws and buses were deemed dangerous, suggesting a preference for personal mobility. However, shared mobility in the form of rental automobiles or micromobility may still be appreciated.
Attitudes for shared mobility were found to be associated to age. The scores given to taxis and vehicles were shown to be connected with age, demonstrating that millennials prefer not to own assets but to use services. It was also found that age was linked with the willingness to take the public transport if COVID safety protocols were adhered to.