Using technology to plan travel

Transport services are only useful for people who can access and use them effectively. Groups that could benefit most from improved access to transport are more likely to lack access to technology to plan travel. This was a finding by the Inclusive Design Team at the University of Cambridge.

Two hands of an older person are poised above the keyboard of a laptop computer.

The survey found that older people, people with disability, and people with low education had low levels of technology access and understanding.

A survey carried out in Germany asked questions about access to technology, ability to use the technology, and using it for transport planning. Vulnerable and excluded groups included women, older people, people with low education, and people with low incomes. Older people and people with disability were the least likely to use a device to access information about transport.

A pair of hands belonging to an older man hold a mobile phone.

Owning a smartphone does not guarantee the ability to operate complex digital services.

The research paper is detailed with many variables. Three groups – people with low education, older people and people with disability had the lowest level of interaction with technology. If these groups also have low incomes, acquiring devices and being able to afford internet connections would also be a factor.

A man stands on a train platform looking at his smartphone. He is wearing a hat and has a bright yellow backpack.

Older people and people with disability were limited in regular travel because they couldn’t plan travel or use transport.

The title of the article is Toward Inclusive Digital Mobility Services: a Population Perspective. This research project is one of four similar projects conducted in Europe and UK. The reference list is useful for further reading.

Abstract

Digital mobility services have great potential to increase passengers’ transportation options, improve their experiences and reduce exclusion. However, these advantages are only available to those who can access and use these services effectively.

To facilitate the development of inclusive services, information is needed on the range of potential users’ technology access, use, attitudes and capabilities. A population-representative survey examining these characteristics was carried out with 1010 participants in Germany in 2020.

The results are examined for groups and intersections of groups identified in previous work as particularly vulnerable to either digital or mobility exclusion. Older people, people with disabilities and people with low education levels had particularly low levels of all technology variables.

Caution is thus required when rolling out digital mobility services. Non-digital alternatives are needed to ensure an inclusive service and any digital interfaces need to be designed carefully to be usable by and reassuring to digital novices.