Using technology to plan travel

Transport services are only useful for people who can access and use them effectively. Groups who benefit most from improved physical 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.

Older people, people with disability, and people with low education had lower levels of access and understanding of technology.

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

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.

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

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

Three groups – people with low education, older people and people with disability had the lowest level of interaction with technology. For people who have low incomes, acquiring devices and being able to afford internet connections is also a barrier.

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

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

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.

From the 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.

We needed to find out the range of potential users’ technology access, use, attitudes and capabilities. In 2020, a survey examining these characteristics was carried out with 1010 participants in Germany.

The results showed that older people, people with disabilities and people with low education levels had particularly low levels of all technology variables.

Rolling out digital mobility services requires caution and planning. Non-digital alternatives should be provided to ensure an inclusive service. Digital interfaces must be designed carefully to be usable by and reassuring to digital novices.

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