Multi-modal travel, promoted by public transport authorities

Posted: 3 April 2016 | | No comments yet

Promoting multi-modal transport is essential if cities are to quench the thirst of its citizen’s ever-increasing need for mobility. A strong and efficient public transport service provides the necessary backbone for multi-modal transport, and public transport already holds the multi-modal customer base. According to Dorthe Nøhr Pedersen, CEO of Movia in Denmark, public transport authorities are therefore in an ideal position to promote multi-modal transport which benefits the citizens and the cities, and attracts more customers resulting in public transport becoming more economically viable.


Movia is the public transport authority of Denmark, providing bus and local train services to the Greater Copenhagen Area. It is Movia’s ambition to be the natural focus point and knowledge centre providing seamless travel to the public. The mission statement marks the transformation we are undergoing: the gradual shift from ‘just’ providing bus and local train services in our region to becoming the mobility provider, focusing on the needs of the travellers, regardless of their choice of transport. A broad mobility approach supports the national and municipal aims of optimising mobility service to the citizens whilst also optimising investments in infrastructure, attracting new residents and businesses and pursuing ambitious environmental goals.

Public transport is at the heart of integrated urban mobility solutions

In major transport corridors and during peak hours, a high capacity public transport system is by far the most efficient way to transport large numbers of people and will always outperform all other mobility options. Public transport is an essential part of the trip-chain of shorter trips, and provides an important service in more rural areas where public transport is the only option for the young and the elderly. As a public transport authority, Movia is actively promoting multi-modal transport as an essential part of our service to our customers.

The ambition is to make seamless multi-modal commuting and travelling the easiest solution for all. As a public transport authority we have an important role. The vast majority of multi-modal trips include a journey by bus or train. Car-pooling, car-sharing or rider-share services are most efficiently organised around strong public transport hubs. Biking and walking is most efficiently promoted when public transport can supply a part of the trip, or be a viable alternative in bad weather. Design, planning and implementation of good solutions for multi-modal travel is therefore a strategic focal point of our business as a major transport provider. 

Coordinating tomorrow’s mobility

Working closely with cities, public authorities and other mobility providers, we are taking the lead in coordinating tomorrow’s mobility. As part of this strategy we have a dedicated department, Movia Mobility, whose focus is the on-going dialogue with the planning, traffic and other technical departments of the municipalities as well as other mobility providers such as car-sharing clubs, free-floating ‘citycar’ providers, ride-sharing platforms, taxi companies and other public transport providers in the region.

Movia Mobility provides information, guidance and training sessions for city planners and administrators, focusing on practical advice and tools to develop local solutions and also undertakes joint initiatives to promote multi-modal travel behaviour. We engage with local companies that are keen to incorporate mobility into their CSR and global footprint-strategies, and who are eager to provide local mobility incentives as one of their strategies to make them a desirable workplace for present and future employees.

This is a continuous process where we endeavour to develop new approaches, resulting in greener and more sustainable transport. The following four examples demonstrate how we work with these challenges and actively promote multi-modal everyday travel:

  1. Collaboration with a local car-sharing company, resulting in an increase of 30 per cent of car-sharing members
  2. Collaboration with local companies, resulting in a decrease of single-car use by up to 13 per cent
  3. Developing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs), tapping into local resources while meeting political ambitions
  4. Laying the groundwork for a ‘Mobility as a Service’ platform, making it easier to live a multi-modal life for Copenhageners.

Approach 1: promoting car-sharing to public transport pass holders

In Denmark – compared to other EU countries – car-sharing is not widespread. In order to change that Movia and Lets-Go, a major car-sharing company in the Copenhagen area, set up a joint campaign in 2015. Adopting the slogan ‘Smart to have a bus. And smart to have a car, when you need it’ public transport cardholders were offered a free membership of the car-sharing club. The campaign was targeted at passengers along one of Movia’s busier high-speed lines and also displayed in buses, through web-banners and by direct marketing amongst companies situated in the corridor. Passenger data provided a good background for the optimum locations of new car-sharing vehicles.

The campaign has resulted in an increase of 30 per cent in the membership of car-sharing clubs in and around Copenhagen. The fleet of car-sharing cars has been extended significantly along the bus line, clearly demonstrating that many public transport users benefit from having access to a car from time-to-time. Although the initial short-term results showed a small decrease in the total number of bus trips performed by the new car-sharing members, it also showed that the group labelled ‘Predominantly Positive Towards Public Transport’ (46 per cent of the new car-sharing members) have become more satisfied with public transport after they became a member of the car-sharing club, indicating that joint promotion to increase multi-modal travel is a win-win for public transport and car-sharing companies.

Approach 2: multi-modal commuting promoted in collaboration with local companies and businesses

Less than 30 per cent of all trips take place to and from work. However, as they take place more or less within the same hours in the morning and afternoon, the result is congestion, delays and loss of effective worktime. Engaging directly with the companies to encourage single occupant car-use employees to leave their car at home – if only once in a while – is a cheap and effective way to reduce peak hour annoyances, as well as promote multi-modal travel behaviour.

Initiatives such as this are known as ‘travel plans’. Implemented at local businesses in suburban areas they have resulted in a decrease of single occupant car-use by 9-13%. The car trips have been substituted by bike (approximately 2/3 of the trips) and by public transport (approximately 1/3 of the previous single occupant car trips). Travel plans include a transport survey amongst employees to map commuting behaviour, but most importantly to collect ideas of ways to make the multi-modal choice easier. Based on the results of the surveys, 5-10 ‘easy fixes’ are identified, implemented and communicated throughout the companies. Often they include straightforward information on incentives that are already in place, such as: CommuterCards (at a discount if organised through the workplace), bike-facilities, shower and changing facilities, work-at-home options, etc. They also include information about new or altered bus lines, new bus stops and new cycle lanes. At local events Movia offers personal travel plans and has developed an online ‘commuter check’ platform providing personalised travel plans by bus, bike or car highlighting the savings of cost and travel time, health (calories) and the environment (CO2 emissions). The personal ‘travel plan’ is sent directly to the employees via email. The ‘commuter check’ serves as an effective eye-opener for commuters who do not realise the true costs of commuting by car and are unaware of alternatives by bus, train and/or bike.  

Approach 3: promoting Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs)

Most cities in Europe are struggling with congestion, poor air quality and lack of space. Cities have been tackling this by developing mobility policies that promote cycling, walking and public transport; building infrastructure to support these mobility choices, and taking on initiatives such as parking restrictions and one-way streets, making the private car less convenient for trips in the city. This is often achieved by focusing on the individual modes, rather than the citizens’ needs to get from A to B.

Approaching these issues with a multi-modal focus, Movia supports municipalities in developing sustainable and greener transport solutions for its citizens. The key is to have citizens at the heart of the plan because by engaging local businesses, organisations and citizens in the process brings both solutions and new resources to the table. Cities applying the SUMP approach emphasise the local cooperation as the strongpoint – and the main reason for being successful – in realising the multi-modal goals of their plans.

SUMPs combine political goals with economic growth, attracting new businesses and residents and promoting a healthier lifestyle with the promotion of sustainable mobility. In this way they ensure enduring ownership of the plan at many department levels of the city, thus increasing the chance of success.

Approach 4: future multi-modal solutions for Copenhageners

Today 24 per cent of all Copenhageners are in fact multi-modal. During the course of the week they choose the mode of transport most suitable for their specific trip and on a daily basis use at least two modes of the following transport: private car, a car-sharing vehicle, bus, train and/or bike (walking is not included in this statistic). There is huge potential for enlarging this group by making multi-modal choices more convenient and more accessible.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) serves as a common platform for public and private mobility providers, affording users a single point of entry to book and pay for their mobility needs through a single account. Movia and the City of Copenhagen share a vision of making a MaaS platform available for Copenhageners by 2017. This will require a technical solution. However, the biggest challenge is to successfully negotiate a common agreement amongst the mobility providers. This process is already in full swing, but we are confident that by the summer most mobility providers will stand behind a joint business model for a MaaS-platform, that will allow Copenhageners to live a multi-modal life.


Dorthe Nøhr Pedersen has been CEO of Movia since 2009. Prior to this she had a long career in public administration, including being the Head of the Department in the Ministry for Transport and Building from 2005 to 2009.