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How to trigger motivation to use greener transport?

At hDock42, we love to think about possible solutions to current world problems. And in the past several months, we have been intensively playing with ideas on possible solutions to make the European transport greener. We see that governments' incentives have often only a very limited impact.

See, for example, the subsidies for electric cars. In May 2010, the German government started its National Program for Electric Mobility with the goal to bring 1 million electric vehicles on the German streets by 2020.¹ Now its clear, this goal will not be achieved. Aren't there less costly and more efficient ways how to trigger positive motivation for greener mobility?

Luckily, we are not the only ones that are concerned by this questions. EPOMM is the European Platform on Mobility Management, a network of governments in European countries that are engaged in mobility management.² Already in 2017, they published a study on how rewards can trigger motivation with regard to people's transport choices. According to the study, monetary rewards can be a powerful tool to drive short-term behaviour change. However, rewards that create a positive attitude with a certain behaviour and celebrate each small step in the behaviour change process can significantly raise the chance of achieving a more permanent behaviour change. These rewards have to be relevant to the person’s desires. If they are, then they can reinforce his or her sense of self-esteem and intrinsic motivation.³

Keeping the EPOMM's study in mind, we have done a research about the current options in several European markets. There are already quite a few solutions that use various approaches. We have recognized the following patterns:

1. Gamification apps

These apps are in heart aiming at people's attitude to accept challenges. For example, the German app Changers. Their USP is that they cooperate with various large employers around Europe that want to support the change in behaviour of their employees. This does not only include commuting, but also sport activities or medical prevention.

2. Reward schemes of transport companies

Not only airlines, also some of the railway companies, like German DB, or Czech ČD and Leo Express offer bonus schemes for their frequent customers. The benefits of such loyalty programs are starting to be recognized also by large international players, like Uber that has recently started its own loyalty program in the USA. No doubt that switching from own car to train or a shared mobility has a positive impact on the CO₂-balance. Still, these solutions are only aimed at the customers of those specific companies.

3. Cross-company loyalty cards

These loyalty schemes, like German Payback, Swiss Wee or British Nectar, were in the beginning specialized only on retail. Later they started spreading to other categories like travel and transport. Their advantage is that they offer an all-in-one solution with no need to have various loyalty cards for different providers. Their USP is in their large network of partners that allows for advanced market research activities, using the customers' data.

4. Mobility-as-a-service solutions

What do the companies like the British Citymapper, the Finnish Mass.Global, and Austrian Upstream Mobility have in common? They create the infrastructure that aims to make transport choices more transparent and to integrate all the transport providers in their service. According to the motto "Integration means more effectiveness", they can offer their customer better prices for using their service, as if they had to book at several transport services separately.

5. Other emerging solutions

Recently, new approaches towards green mobility started popping up. With the emerging blockchain technology on the rise, companies like DOVU or VMC are trying to revolutionize the way people use and pay for mobility services. Their solutions are now in testing phases, and we are very curious about how they will develop. A completely different approach is the one that chose the team around the German app Rydes. In this case, the user scans the transportation tickets in order to receive points that he can redeem for various rewards.

As you can see, there are several large and many emerging players on the market that are trying to motivate commuters to change their transport behaviour. Which one will become the most successful one? Which one is your favourite? Is there any space for new ideas and loyalty programs? Let us know of your opinion!


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Published by: in Research