Examining transportation mode changes during COVID-19 in Toyama, Japan
Although the coronavirus disease of 2019 arguably changed citizens’ transportation mode choices, how these choices changed and what factors influenced them, especially during the soft intervention period, remains ambiguous. To clarify this phenomenon, this study examined how citizens’ socio-demographic and psychological factors contributed to their transportation mode changes (public transportation, active transportation: walking and cycling, and cars) between 2019 and 2020. We employed the extended theory of the norm activation model and the value–attitude–behaviour hierarchy, surveyed 973 citizens in Toyama City, Japan, and applied a confirmatory factor analysis and a multinomial logistic regression model. Regarding psychological characteristics, the findings showed that those with positive attitudes toward public transportation tended to shift to public transportation; those with high personal norms for car use tended to shift to public transportation; those with perceived behavioural control over car use tended not to change to public transportation; and those with positive attitudes toward car use tended not to shift to active transportation. Socio-demographically, respondents who were female, highly educated and/or whose income decreased from the previous year tended to shift to active transportation. Age was not significantly associated with transportation mode changes. No significant variable was found between respondents’ shift to cars and socio-demographic and psychological factors. Our study provides implications, suggesting that policymakers focus on adopting measures to retain female or highly educated individuals in the active transportation mode use even beyond the pandemic period, while raising awareness among men, informing them of the health benefits of the active transportation mode and establishing active transportation mode-friendly infrastructure.