The research for the report was conducted by Savanta ComRes.

The research for the report was conducted by Savanta ComRes.

Photo: Hitachi Rail

Hitachi Rail published a new report investigating attitudes towards public transport and smart mobility in eight cities around the globe, including Washington, D.C., and Toronto, Canada.

The study finds that three-quarters (75%) of people would choose a better-connected public transport system, rather than driving, according to the company's news release.

The report found global demand for smart transport solutions to deliver enhanced cost, convenience, and comfort, with a willingness to pay for improvements through increased taxes on private transport.

The research for the report was conducted by Savanta ComRes. The research investigated over 8,000 peoples’ attitudes in eight major global cities: Washington, D.C., Toronto, London, Paris, Dusseldorf, Turin, Dubai, and Bangkok.

Hitachi Rail said it commissioned the research to better understand the push and pull factors for using public transport and how they interact with Hitachi Rail’s smart, digital solutions the business is rolling out to support cities around the world.

Despite Washington, D.C., having the highest number of respondents commuting via personal vehicle (81%) out of the cities surveyed, more than half (60%) of citizens in the District would choose a better connected public transport system over driving. When it comes to what motivates Washingtonians’ travel decisions, convenience (79%) and comfort (75%) lead the way, followed by crowd avoidance (67%), reliability (58%), and cost (56%).

When asked about factors that would encourage them to use public transportation more often, while ranking lower than most other global cities, respondents in the District still proved to be overall enthusiastic about public transportation. Specifically, Washingtonians want to see more convenient time schedules (82%), more accessible locations that fit their travel route (81%), and adequate space on any service during peak and off-peak times (72%).

“This is good news for public transportation officials in the DMV, as a more-connected network will greatly improve ridership, positively impacting the environment and traffic congestion issues that currently plague the region,” said Joe Pozza, president of Hitachi Rail, North America.

Respondents in Toronto also favor driving to public transport (63%), driven strongly by crowd avoidance (72%), cost (63%), and the convenience of using a personal vehicle (44%). More Torontonians (76%) see the positive environmental impact that public transport can bring.

Toronto respondents also cite the COVID-19 pandemic as having a strong impact on public transportation decisions, with more than two-thirds (67%) of Torontonians believing that the pandemic has changed how they travel now. While 54% are more likely to drive rather than use public transport because of the pandemic, 49% strongly or slightly agree that their choices in how they travel will change.

“Now that we are moving into a post-pandemic environment, we are encouraged to see how Toronto responds to public transport and the new technology, safety programs, and sustainability practices that have become available since they last rode,” said Barr.

Across every city, the majority (averaging 71%) noted that they now travel differently following the pandemic. Those surveyed do however expect that how they travel will change again (59%).

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