It is often claimed that many drivers use their private car rather habitually. The claim obtains credibility from the fact that travelling to many everyday destinations fulfils all the prerequisites for habit formation: it is recurring, performed under stable circumstances, and produces rewarding consequences. Since the decision is made rather automatically and only one choice alternative is considered (the habitually chosen one) behaviours guided by habit are difficult to change. The implications of car-use habits for converting drivers to commuters by public transportation is analysed based on a survey in the Copenhagen area, collected in October 2002. The study reveals that a relatively low percentage of drivers (10-20%) intend to commute by public transportation in the near future, which is hardly a surprise. A hierarchical analysis, where reported use of public transportation is regressed onto intentions to do so, car-use habit, and the interaction between the two, confirms the theory-derived hypothesis that car-use habits act as an obstacle to transforming intentions to commute by public transportation into action.
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TRIP Research Conference: The Economic and Environmental Consequences of Regulating Traffic, 2003