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Sound and independent information
on the environment

Passenger transport

Indicator 8: Passenger transport

 

Total passenger-km travelled in the EU increased by 112  % during 1970-1997. This represents an average annual growth rate of 2.8  %, which outstrips that of GDP (2.5  % per year over the same period). The share of car transport increased from 65  % to 73  % during the period, and total car passenger-km rose by 140  %. Aviation is the fastest growing mode; its current market share (6  %) is greater than rail (5  %).

Figure 2.2: Annual passenger transport performance by mode (EU)

Sources: DG Transport, Eurostat

Objectives

  • Reduce the link between economic growth and passenger transport demand.
  • Improve the shares of public transport, rail, inland waterways, walking and cycling modes.

Definition

Passenger-km travelled by mode of transport.

Note: Dividing this indicator by the population, or adjusting by GDP provides two possible measures of transport intensity – km per head, and passenger-km relative to GDP. These indicators can show progress in reducing the coupling between economic activity and transport demand.

 

Policy and targets

Several strategies are being developed under the CTP to shift modal choice towards environment-friendly modes. The TEN implementation (see Group 4) aims at improving the intermodality of the transport system and the modal balance. The development of high-speed rail is one of the main elements of the ‘Strategy for Revitalising the Community’s Railways’ (CEC, 1996, and is in particular expected to counter the decline of rail passenger transport. The setting of fairer prices may also encourage the use of rail or public transport. At the urban level, public transport is being promoted through the Citizens’ Network campaign (CEC, 1995).

Quantified EU targets for modal shares are still lacking. Several countries, however, have national targets. For instance, the Netherlands has a 2010 target of reducing car vehicle-km by 10  % (from the 1986 level) by shifting demand from private to public passenger transport. The aim is to have an integrated system of public transport services that by 2010 is capable of carrying 50-100  % more peak-hour passengers than in 1986. The United Kingdom aims to double (from 1996) the use of bicycles by 2002, and double it again by 2012.

Findings

Figure 2.3: Changes in passenger transport modal split (European Union)

Sources: DG Transport, Eurostat

Total passenger-km travelled in the EU have more than doubled over the period 1970-1997. The average growth rate of 2.8  % per year is even higher than the average growth in GDP over the same period (2.5  % per year). The growth was highest in Greece, Portugal and Spain, where passenger transport demand has more than quadrupled. The three Member States with the lowest growth in the period were Sweden, Denmark and Belgium.

The total number of passenger-km per capita has been increasing steadily since 1970 reflecting the increasing demand for mobility. The average person in the EU, travels 10 000 km by car per year, ranging from 12 500 km in Denmark and Ireland to 6 000 km in Greece (1997). Car ownership growth, which is strongly correlated with GDP growth, is one of the most important factors. Car ownership increased from 184 to 454 per 1 000 inhabitants between 1970 and 1997 (see Indicator 25).

Passenger car transport is the mode most used: over the period from 1970 to 1997 its share rose from 65 to 74  % and total passenger car-km rose by 140  %. With a current market share of 6  % (compared with 2  % in 1970), air transport has become the third most important means of transport, after passenger cars and buses (8  % in 1997). The declining share of rail (from 9  % in 1970 to 5  % in 1997), walking and cycling challenges the Community’s key priority of promoting and advancing more sustainable forms of transport. See Box 2.1.

Growth rates for the different modes of transport vary substantially. The fastest growing mode is air (7.7  % per year), and next, car (3.3  % per year). The more environmentally friendly modes have the slowest growth rates: cycling (0.5  % per year), rail (1.0  % per year) and bus (1.3  % per year).

The current trends towards increased road and aviation use are expected to continue. The recent EEA outlooks report showed that under a business-as-usual scenario passenger transport would grow by 30  % by 2010 compared with 1995 (EEA, 1999).

Box 2.1: Cycling in the EU

Not all means of transport have adverse environmental effects. Cycling does not lead to noise and congestion nor does it contribute to air pollution. The bicycle makes effective use of human power and natural resources, and the physical activity of cycling is healthful.

Use of the bicycle in EU has stabilised over recent decades at about 185 km/person per year. However, in Denmark and the Netherlands the levels are significantly higher (about 900 km and 850 km respectively), which contradicts the hypothesis that high use of cycling is associated with low purchasing power of individual households. In fact, countries with high levels of bicycle use also tend to have high GNP.

Promotion of bicycles as a means of transport has great potential. In Europe today nearly half of private car trips are shorter than 6 km – for which the bicycle is (in urban traffic) often quicker than the car.

Source: DG Transport fact sheet ‘Bicycle Transport’, November 1997 and European Local Transport Information Service

 

Future work

Further work is needed to develop reliable and comparable statistics on passenger-km. The results described here should be taken as a preliminary indication of the trends at the EU level which will need to be more carefully researched.

 

Data
Passenger transport demand
Unit: bn passenger-km

1970

1980

1990

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Austria

48.4

65.2

79.8

88.4

87.7

88.4

88.4

88.1

87.8

Belgium

66.1

81.4

98.1

102.9

105.1

108.1

110.4

110.6

112.9

Denmark

41.5

49.9

68.1

70.7

71.4

73.7

76.6

79.8

81.9

Finland

32.9

45.6

63.0

61.6

60.7

60.6

61.2

61.7

62.9

France

370.9

543.2

691.1

721.7

734.8

752.5

760.6

775.4

788.9

Germany

519.2

666.7

818.3

846.6

858.7

851.7

862.5

863.7

872.5

Greece

19.6

44.7

68.5

71.2

74.1

77.0

80.6

83.9

87.0

Ireland

19.4

33.4

41.4

44.2

45.8

47.5

48.8

50.4

51.9

Italy

278.8

424.8

654.9

741.1

734.4

731.3

752.8

758.6

773.4

Luxembourg

2.6

3.2

4.6

5.0

5.2

5.3

5.4

5.4

5.5

Netherlands

85.4

129.2

160.3

168.0

169.4

175.2

175.3

174.4

180.1

Portugal

25.4

54.7

81.0

88.7

100.1

107.7

117.4

123.0

126.7

Spain

100.3

231.8

332.1

358.3

365.4

372.9

384.5

393.3

411.3

Sweden

65.5

81.0

105.0

106.4

105.8

99.1

102.0

108.4

109.3

United Kingdom

394.1

478.4

679.6

670.1

671.0

677.0

683.5

698.6

710.1

EU15 – main (road and rail)

2069.8

2933.3

3945.6

4144.8

4189.6

4227.9

4309.9

4375.3

4462.1

EU15 – total

2431.9

3397.2

4502.5

4723.8

4787.8

4850.5

4956.2

5042.4

5154.0

Source: Eurostat, DG Transport

 

Average annual car-passenger transport per capita
Unit: 1 000 passenger-km/capita

 

1980

1990

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Austria

6.3

8.1

8.8

8.5

8.5

8.5

8.2

8.3

Belgium

6.6

8.1

8.4

8.6

8.8

9.0

9.1

9.2

Denmark

7.4

10.4

10.9

11.1

11.4

11.7

12.1

12.4

Finland

7.1

10.3

10.0

9.8

9.7

9.8

9.8

10.0

France

8.4

10.3

10.8

11.0

11.2

11.4

11.6

11.7

Germany

6.6

8.6

8.9

9.0

8.9

8.9

8.9

9.0

Greece

2.9

4.8

4.9

5.2

5.4

5.6

5.9

6.1

Ireland

8.2

10.4

10.9

11.2

11.5

11.8

12.1

12.5

Italy

5.7

9.2

10.6

10.6

10.5

10.7

10.8

11.0

Luxembourg

7.4

10.5

11.0

11.3

11.4

11.5

11.3

11.5

Netherlands

7.6

9.1

9.1

9.2

9.5

9.5

9.4

9.7

Portugal

4.2

6.6

7.3

8.4

9.1

10.0

10.6

11.0

Spain

5.1

7.3

7.8

8.0

8.1

8.4

8.6

8.9

Sweden

8.0

10.5

10.6

10.4

9.6

9.9

10.5

10.6

UK

7.0

10.4

10.3

10.2

10.3

10.4

10.6

10.7

EU

6.6

9.1

9.5

9.6

9.7

9.8

9.9

10.1

Source: Eurostat, DG Transport
Note: The data used in these analyses has been drawn from the DG Transport statistics pocketbook (version 1999). This combines data from Eurostat, the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), and other sources, together with additional data supplied by the Member States.


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