The impact of COVID-19 and policy measures on commuting in the Netherlands

Henk Taale, Marie-José Olde Kalter, Rinus Haaijer, Carlijn Damen

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In the Netherlands, one of the main goals of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is to increase accessibility and, at the same time, to reduce the negative externalities created by transport, such as congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Within the Ministry, there was a clear need for a national and integrated monitoring instrument to measure the impact of policy measures on travel behaviour. To satisfy this need, we carried out a national traveller survey in 2019, 2020 and 2021. This paper describes some of the results of these surveys. Annual analyses include the trends in car ownership and mode choice for different purposes, with particular attention to commuting behaviour. It appears that travel time, convenience and flexibility play an important role in mode choice. Travel costs are less important and COVID-19 did not play a decisive role. It appears that free parking or availability of parking space has the most considerable impact on car use for commuting. In October 2019, employees travelled on average 3.8 days per week to work. In October 2020, mainly because of COVID-19, this number decreased to 2.9 travelling days and in October 2021, the number of travelled increased to 3.1. We examined the relationship between changes in car use for commuting between 2019, 2020 and 2021, and external developments in living and working, changes in the level of service of different transport modes and policy measures, both by the government and by employers. In addition, we investigated the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on car use for commuting and this appeared to be an important factor, although external factors also play an important role. Finally, we estimated the effect of these changes in car use for commuting on congestion and CO2 emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2369-2376
Number of pages8
JournalCase Studies on Transport Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Commuting
  • COVID-19
  • Policy measures


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