General background

The transport sector is one of the major sources of global warming, both from individual travel behaviour (especially car use) and from freight transport (mainly by trucks). Mobility surveys, as well as data collections about travel behaviour, are essential to develop transportation policies and measures which encourage more environment-friendly transport modes.

For achieving these goals, various data collection methodologies have been proposed in recent decades in different national or regional contexts. The need for a wider range of demand indicators on more detailed sub-populations and regional contexts is rising.

Beyond that data quality is a real challenge, mainly because response rates are declining and interviewees are more and more reluctant to respond to burdensome questionnaires. Therefore researchers have to reduce the number of questions and to develop methodologies for improving data quality and compensating for these cuts, by either combining data sources (for example imputing travel cost from expenditure surveys) or by using new technological tools.

The most urgent need is not for direct funding of research, but rather for support of international networking and capacity-building. Indeed, the crucial comparative dimension can only be achieved through cooperation and exchange: The relevant sources of learning and improvements arise from the getting to know other surveys and approaches from other countries by an assessment by means of comparisons. This can only be achieved by a concerted discussion between transport researchers, other users of travel demand data, statisticians, researchers who set up travel demand surveys and partly also staff from the relevant national statistical offices in order to come up with new solutions.

The COST Action represents an efficient and effective route to achieve this twofold objective. By co-operative research teams from different States, it will be able to develop an active and open network, based on the commitment of researchers and boosted by regular scientific events, meetings and junior researchers" training. The COST Action and its constitutive tools (Working Groups, Short Term Scientific Missions, Conference, and Workshops) will therefore be of invaluable assistance and accelerate the emergence of a European transport harmonized surveys network, bringing ahead concrete results from studies already underway and stimulating new ones in countries which do not yet have any. Most funding sources focus on individual research projects, but this Action requires the backing of an organization of COST"s stature and experience.