Abstract: Concrete conclusions as regards the development of rail services can be derived from discussions on the evolution of the air market. The emerging market for low-cost airlines and the enormous growth rate of this new market segment may aggravate the problem of unequal fiscal treatment for the two modes of transport. While the level of value added tax (VAT) for international rail trips differs from country to country, international airline tickets are not subject to VAT. Furthermore, rail companies have to pay fuel taxes, while airlines have access to untaxed fuels. In the future, the tariff plans for long-distance rail services in Europe will be driven more and more by a yield management system, which allows quick reactions to changes in the price policy of competitors. However, the presently prevailing inequality in the financial treatment for these two modes of transport will most probably result in a market distortion.
An additional conclusion that was derived during the 'Thematic network for understanding mobility prediction' (Think-up) workshops was that there is a close relationship between land-use patterns and the opportunities of public transport operators to provide efficient and user-friendly services. In several cases land-use and the settlement structure have prevented public transport operators from establishing an efficient public transport network. It is therefore necessary to develop an integrated transport policy, which will combine the transport infrastructure planning with land-use planning.
If mobility was considered to be more than just a means of reaching a certain destination - a utility of its own - it could not be explained entirely by means of objectively measurable utilities. For example, the demand for mobility cannot be completely defined by the attractiveness of a certain destination. This view on mobility was suggested during the Think-up workshops and led to the conclusion that there is a substantial share of mobility, which is related to patterns totally different from those usually presumed and thus eludes the classical measures.
Furthermore, it has been stressed vigorously that individuals' decisions are not only based on a 'minimising the generalised cost' or 'maximising utility' concept. They are also - and in some cases to a considerable extent - driven by subjective perceptions, constraints, attitudes and values, life-style, the prevailing image of a transport mode, and the level of information on the available services. Rail and public transport are likely to be less preferred, mainly because the level of information on public transport services is at a remarkable low level. Moreover, the complex tariff structures of public transport systems often discourage potential users. As a consequence, 'hard measures' (i.e. changes in costs of different modes of transportation) which have been introduced in the past did not necessarily result in the expected results. This was not only due to the lack of flexibility of human behaviour, but it is also because transport policy measures lack the essential influence on the general public.
Finally, a holistic approach will need to be adopted in order to achieve a modal shift. It should combine classical transport policy measures with 'soft measures'. For example, awareness-arising campaigns which will aim to improve the image of public transport modes. Particularly in the competitive field of passenger transport in urban areas, it is crucial that public transport operators provide sufficient information about the transport services available. Furthermore, a user-friendly and easy-to-understand tariff system should be applied. The marketing and public relations departments of transport operators can play an important role in changing the public image of transport modes, as well as providing enough and reliable information on services and tariffs.
Subject Descriptors: Transport
Subject Index Codes: Transport
Stage of Development: Scientific and/or technical knowledge (basic research)
Collaboration Sought: Further research or development support