Nudging Towards Sustainable Public Transportation

Nudging Towards Sustainable Public Transportation

Anton Manfreda, Jure Erjavec
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5996-6.ch006
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The chapter presents the importance of public transportation in coping with contemporary environmental issues. However, the aim is not to present public transportation as the only method of transportation leading towards a green future. New services and solutions should be carefully developed in cooperation with residents considering their needs, culture, habits, and existing procedures. Transforming the mindset of residents should be considered as well. Therefore, the authors present the readers with different theories, models, tools, and frameworks, illustrated with existing cases for promoting behavioral change amongst individuals, focusing specifically on nudging mechanisms. While the focus of the chapter is mainly on nudging towards sustainable public transportation, the authors illustrate nudging with examples from other areas as well and argue how such uses can also be applied to promote sustainable public transportation. This chapter is therefore aimed at policymakers and other stakeholders involved in promoting sustainable public transportation modes.
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The increasing population in urban areas is causing modern problems and is affecting the quality of individuals' life. It is notable to mention that more than half of the world’s population live in cities and the share of people living in urban environments is constantly rising. It is expected that up to 68% of the world’s population will leave in urban areas by 2050 (“68% of the world,” 2018). Many places are already facing problems and challenges arising from quick urbanization and ageing infrastructure that are hardly able to handle these issues. Existing procedures in cities have been ineffective in many areas. However, with the recent progress and the potential of digital technologies and relevant communication opportunities, cities are increasingly becoming smarter. The idea of a smart city or community as a way to improve an individual’s quality of life is gaining the attention of policymakers, academic researchers and other relevant stakeholders.

Together with population growth also technological advancement is increasing and offering a way to cope with modern solutions. The diffusion of information technology is now noticeable everywhere, not only in organizations but also considering individuals and society. Digitalization is bringing new opportunities for cities and communities; however, the progress and new development must be considering sustainability issues as well. Namely, to ensure that the resources are well-maintained and well-kept-up (Nagode & Manfreda, 2022). After all, proper economic growth and respectable quality of life for individuals should be considered as well. Due to the anticipated growth of urban areas, it is important to simultaneously take care of the social, economic and environmental sustainability use of resources. Decision-makers in several cities are trying to implement different technologies into various aspects of their cities’ operations. This includes public transport, urban mobility, solid waste management, water and power supply, citizen participation and many others.

However, similarly, as organizations need to change their way of operating in order to digitally transform or become more sustainability-oriented, the same applies to individuals. With respect to changing citizens’ behaviors, the role that institutions have on individuals should not be neglected. Local government has an especially particular role as it is the institution geographically closest to citizens and has the authority to influence the local environment, services and civic infrastructure related to civil society (Cotterill & Richardson, 2009). However, human behavior can be modified by restructuring the flow of information and incentives, or through education (Ekins, 2004). Behavior change of individuals in urban areas and outside them needs should be considered as an important and well-thoughtful element for achieving defined sustainability goals.

Digital technologies may be used to promote sustainable mobility behaviors of the citizens (Kazhamiakin et al., 2016). The use of persuasive technologies offering data analytics and visualization can be used to inform and make the users aware of the consequences of their behavior. Lately the way of notifying people about their behavior through displays and applications has been proven to raise awareness and affect their behavior (Petersen et al., 2020). Digital technology can also engage with diverse stakeholders and increase knowledge among individuals, foster changes in public policy and behavioral change (Rajanen & Rajanen, 2019), and encourage citizens towards changing their behaviors to be more in line with the sustainable future of the whole society (Caroleo et al., 2019). That includes encouraging the use of public transportation, multimodal transport and offering micro-mobility solutions are the most user-oriented opportunities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Nudge: A small change in the environment of the individual decision maker that affects their decision in a predictable way without removing any of the existing choices or changing their economic initiatives.

Internal Motivation: The drive or desire that comes from within an individual to engage in a particular behavior or activity. It is not influenced by external factors such as rewards or punishments, but rather by personal goals, values, and interests.

Sustainability: The concept that aims to prevent the overuse of limited resources and protect the environment.

Choice Architecture: Design that deals with how different choices are presented to decision makers.

External Motivation: The drive or desire to engage in a particular behavior or activity that is influenced by external factors, such as rewards or punishments. These external factors can be tangible (money, grades, recognition) or intangible (social approval, avoidance of negative consequences).

Behavioral Economics: The field that deals with explaining the phenomena of economic agents, especially individuals or households, not always behaving rationally and thus not following the classical economic theory.

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