Loughborough University
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An examination of passenger surface access travel behaviour

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posted on 2013-11-15, 11:40 authored by Thomas Budd
The increasing scale of, and demand for, civil air transport has necessitated ever greater numbers of passengers and staff travelling to and from airports. At airports worldwide, private vehicles represent the vast majority of these surface access journeys and this has led to severe problems of traffic congestion and raised levels of air pollution. Consequently, UK and international airports are re-evaluating their approach to surface access mode choice and considering how to reduce the reliance on private vehicles. Despite improvements in public transport links at some airports, in the UK it is currently estimated that around 65% of surface access trips at large airports are undertaken in private cars, with this figure being as high as 99% at smaller regional or secondary airports. The problems associated with high private vehicle use are likely to become even more acute in the future given the forecasted growth in demand for UK air travel. Surface access is a complex airport management issue as decision makers must balance the often competing requirements and demands of different user groups with the wider commercial and environmental goals of the airport. Passengers pose a particular problem due to the large number of trips generated, and the wide range of factors affecting their travel. Passengers are also important because they represent the airport s primary customers. The aim of the thesis is to examine passenger surface access travel behaviour in order to make recommendations for reducing private vehicle use. The research adopts a social psychological approach, employing two theories of attitude-behaviour relations, the Norm-Activation Theory and the Theory of Planned Behaviour, in order to identify groups of passengers with the potential to reduce their private vehicle use. Research methods employed to fulfil the aim include interviews with surface access managers at UK airports and a questionnaire survey of passengers at Manchester Airport, an international airport in the North-West of England. It is found that passenger mode choice decisions are motivated primarily by considerations of self-interest, as posited in the Theory of Planned Behaviour, rather than normative or moral elements, as proposed by the Norm-Activation Theory. As well as attitudes, passengers are also found to vary considerably in terms of their specific personal, situational and spatial characteristics. For example, passengers using public transport are likely to be travelling alone from areas further from the airport and flying without checked-in luggage. Using this combined attitudinal, situational and spatial information, eight distinct passenger groups are then identified. Two of these groups, described as the Public Transport Advocates and the Pessimistic Lift Seekers, are found to have the greatest potential to reduce their private vehicle use. Overall, it is important that strategies targeted at reducing private vehicle use and encouraging public transport use address both the physical and perceived barriers preventing behavioural change. Furthermore, while airport managers tend to favour implementing so called soft incentive measures for encouraging modal shift as opposed to more draconian measures, in the future it is likely that decision makers will increasingly need to find ways of implementing the latter in a fashion that is both effective and acceptable to airport users.





  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© Thomas Budd

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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