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How Corona has changed mobility behavior

The past year has brought many changes, and the mobility industry is also noticing a shift due to the pandemic. A new study by Frauenhofer ISI has now looked at the mobility behavior of Germans during the Corona pandemic to understand whether individual mobility has changed permanently or only selectively.

August 5, 2021

The past year has brought many changes, and the mobility industry is also noticing a shift due to the pandemic. A new study by Frauenhofer ISI has now looked at the mobility behavior of Germans during the Corona pandemic to understand whether individual mobility has changed permanently or only selectively. 

Individual mobility in Germany during Corona

Due to the Corona pandemic, many people have had to make changes since last year. Due to home offices and an increased risk of infection in public spaces (and thus also in public transport), daily mobility behavior has changed. But how do things look now after more than a year of the pandemic? Frauenhofer ISI surveyed German citizens in August 2020 and April 2021. The focus here was on how the purposes of travel, such as business trips, leisure trips, etc., as well as the choice of means of transport would change after the end of the Corona restrictions in major cities. 

No major changes after one year despite pandemic

The result of the study makes it clear that the behavior of Germans has actually not changed that much. In August 2020, the proportion of people expecting no changes for their work-related mobility was already around 70%. This was also reflected in April 2021. In terms of the use of personal mobility for vacations, many expected a big increase after the pandemic in April 2021, while a big decrease was still predicted in 2020. It also looks more normal again in terms of transportation choices in 2021. More people want to use airplanes again after the Corona pandemic. In August 2020, the proportion of respondents who wanted to fly less outweighed the proportion of those who wanted to use more airplanes by 30 percent, but in April 2021 there was a slight surplus (6 percent) of those who planned to use more airplanes.

Differences in attitudes toward mobility to Corona

Although many people’s expectations of individual mobility have not changed much, it is clear that more people nevertheless want to be less mobile than before. The main reasons for this are the home office option in many companies and the existing alternatives that can replace business trips, for example (video conferencing). Nevertheless, mobility is still an important part of life, as can be seen from the 38% of people in large cities who want to be more mobile after the pandemic than before. 

According to Dr. Johannes Schuler, who conducts research on mobility issues at the Fraunhofer ISI’s Competence Center Sustainability and Infrastructure Systems, among other things, comments on the survey as follows: “While there was still hope in many places shortly after the start of the crisis that Corona could fundamentally change our mobility in Germany, our results show that these expectations were perhaps too optimistic after all. The respondents’ assessments of their planned future behavior after the pandemic are optimistic anyway. If so many people already indicated a desire to return to old patterns during the pandemic, this does not bode well for the mobility shift. It will take further strict push-out measures to change mobility in big cities.” 

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