Smartphone-Based Interventions for Sustainable Travel Behavior

Principal Investigator(s):

Yingling Fan, Associate Dean for Faculty, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

Innovative mobility apps have the power to transform the relationship between transportation networks and travelers. Capitalizing on the recent advancement in smartphone technology, this project developed a smartphone-based behavior intervention tool named Daynamica to provide customized, user-centered messages and graphics for promoting travel mode shifts from driving to more sustainable modes. The project tested the effectiveness of the intervention tool among University of Minnesota (UMN) parking contract holders. For each car trip made by a participant, the tool provided a mode shift plan based on the exact trip origin and destination. The tool also provided information describing the environmental impacts of the specific car trip and the personal benefits of switching to the alternative mode. The findings showed that although 92 percent of participants were interested in trying alternative modes, in general when it comes to specific trip considerations, only 36 percent of the car trips were considered reasonable alternative modes. There was ample interest among the most car-dependent population-parking contract holders to explore alternative mode options; however, their interest was tempered by the limited alternative mode offerings in the region. Thus, it is recommended that transportation practitioners and policymakers improve these offerings. Furthermore, this project generated useful data to identify factors influencing mode shifting. Housing ownership, being male, making stops during the trip, and a late departure time for the morning commute were negatively associated with participants' receptiveness toward mode shifting. Finally, the project included a novel analysis exploring the activity/trip chaining behaviors of the study participants.

Project details: