01 June 2018

Quebecers' perception on sustainable mobility - Unveiling of CIRANO’S Barometer results

Nathalie de Marcellis-Warrin, (President and chief executive officer at CIRANO and Full Professor at Polytechnique Montréal) and Ingrid Peignier (Partners Relations and Communications Director, CIRANO) have unveiled a sneak preview of CIRANO’s 2018 Barometer results on sustainable mobility during the 'Grands Rendez-vous de Polytechnique Montréal' at the 'Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal'.


Our behaviors in regards to transportation are in mutation.  New alternatives are emerging:  electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles, vehicle sharing, etc.  In this context, the authors seeked to understand Quebecers' perception towards these changes.  What are their perceptions towards vehicle innovations (electric vehicles, self-driving vehicles)?  How do they perceive the various options as a replacement for a personal vehicle?  What behaviors do they adopt regarding the development of public transportation?


The results of this study are based on the analysis of a survey conducted between April 5 and April 10, 2018 with a sample of 1013 participants representing the Quebec population.


Electric Vehicles

86% of Quebecers are favorable to more electric vehicles.  91% of the respondents who consider that climate changes are a reality caused by human activities are favorable to more electric vehicles against 61% of those who believe that climate changes are not scientifically proven.

37% of Quebecers aspire to more self-driving vehicles.  This is a relatively high portion of the population considering that a few days prior to the collection of the data for this study two fatal accidents implicating self-driving vehicles were reported in the United States.  Other factors could also explain why some Quebecers are against self-driving vehicles.  In fact, when we correlate the case study on mobility with other questions from CIRANO’S 2018 Barometer on artificial intelligence (IA) we come to the conclusion that Quebecers are against self-driving vehicles:

  • Are less familiar with the term 'Articifial Intelligence' than those who are favorable
  • Are more preoccupied with the risks associated with technological innovations than those who are favorable (17% vs 10%; p=0,001)
  • Are personally more worried about the development of AI and robots than those who are favorable
  • Are collectively more worried about the development of AI and robots for Quebec than those who are favorable
  • Are less ready to delegate certain of their tasks to AI or a robot (40% vs 70% of those who are favorable; p=0,000)

Perceptions related to the two types of vehicle vary based on specific sociodemographic variables.  Thus, men and Millenials (91% and 49% of the less than 35 years of age are respectively favorable to electric and self-driving vehicles) are significantly more numerous at affirming they are favorable to more electric and self-driving vehicles.

A societal change at work:  vehicle sharing and public transport

Vehicle ownership is less of a professional success marker today than it was even within the last 15 years.  What is important today is mobility.  An increasing number of Quebecers do not own a vehicle or opt for vehicle sharing services.  In this regard, the study reveals that 72% of Quebecers aspire to the development of this kind of offer.  Single people (80%) are more favorable than married couples (67%).  However, Quebecers 75 years old and over (54%) are less favorable than the rest of the adult population (75% of the 18 to 74 years old).

But does this mean that the implementation of vehicle sharing services would be at the expense of public transport?  Nothing is less certain as the great majority of Quebecers (83%) are favorable to the development of public transportation large scale projects.  Without surprise, the most favorable live in the greater Montreal area (86% vs. 78% in the greater Quebec area) and are less than 35 years old (85% vs. 64% of those aged 75 years old and over). Interestingly, 82% of Quebecers adhere to the idea of social pricing such as free transportation for senior citizens or a rate reduction for low income citizens.


REM or pink line?


What important collective transportation projects are the most popular with Quebecers?


  • 77% are favorable to the REM (Réseau Express Métropolitain) (not surprisingly, the Montreal respondents (surveyed metropolitan area) are the most significant group in favor at 82%
  • 71% are favorable to the pink Montreal metro line
  • 70% are favorable to the Quebec tramway (surprisingly, the Quebec respondents (surveyed metropolitan area) are less numerous in favor at 63%)
  • 53% are favorable to the ‘Grand Déblocage’ for greater Montreal


Everyone is for vitue, but is it reflected in the behavior of Quebecers when they travel?  43% of Quebecers are somewhat favorable to very favorable to the following affirmation:  ‘’whenever possible, I use active transportations (walking, bicycling, etc.) rather than use my vehicule.’’  But it is only the case for 29% of Quebecers when they are questioned on the use of public transportation over their vehicle.  However, 48% say they would opt for this type of transportation if the offer was better adapted to their needs.  Those statistics clearly illustrate the importance of a transportation system which is better adapted to the reality of the citizens.


In conclusion, the co-authors of the study, Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin and Ingrid Peignier, have identified a marked interest for the development of large scale public transportation projects in Quebec, and that those must be adapted to the needs of the citizens before they adhere to them.  There is clearly a dichotomy between Quebecers aspirations and their reality in terms of travels.


In that context, we must question how to transform perceptions into behaviors and actions.  When questioned on the 3 society choices that Quebec should prioritize among the list of seven measures to ensure sustainable mobility:


  • 58% of Quebecers favor investments in major public transportation projects
  • 43% are for investments in transportation electrification
  • 43% praise the implementation of measures favoring work flexibility/work-from-home to reduce the social costs associated with transportation (congestion, etc.)
Website Security Test