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Study: Engaging Environmental Effects in Public Transport, Fear of Corona Not Dominating Emotions

A joint study conducted by the Finnish Public Transport Association and empathy analytics company NayaDaya Inc. shows the most meaningful aspects of public transport for the Finns and their impact on the citizens’ behavior.

Image: Harry Hykko / Shutterstock.com

The study took place at the end of September-early October and was conducted to reveal the emotions Finns have toward public transportation, the root causes of those emotions as well as their effects. Emotions should be understood since they significantly affect behavior – also in public transport.


Almost half of the respondents experience positive emotions toward public transport which is twice the amount compared to negative emotions. The most common emotion is contentment, which indicates fulfillment of one’s basic needs. This emotion, however, is not engaging and does not foster growth. Interestingly, one-third of the respondents consider public transport as insignificant.


According to the study, the most significant aspect of public transport is its service level. Even though the results are leaning toward positivity, there is a lot of polarization. Positive and engaging aspects include environmental effects, avoidance of using private motor vehicles and parking, not having a private transportation and travel comfort. Negative aspects causing avoidance are uncomfortably close social distance of other people, insecurity, behavior of the drivers, as well as the social stigma surrounding those using public transport. Costs associated with public transport divided the respondents into two main groups: those who are content and those who are disappointed.


Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, concerns over the risk of infections raised only a weak signal in the study. Less than one percent of respondents expressed fear of potential infections. The most common emotions linked to other passengers, fear and disgust, were targeted toward overcrowding and unpleasant experiences with people.


”Empathy study generates for the public transport sector, from chartered rides to local and long distance alternatives, an overview of the aspects which ought to be strengthened, transformed, or fixed. By targeting our efforts more precisely, we are able to further the usage and competitive edge of public transport, wellbeing, and sustainable development. From the local transport’s viewpoint the results tell us what is expected of the service: sufficient availability, safety, and friendly customer service,” states Director of the Finnish Public Transport Association Minna Soininen.


Public transport’s service level was analyzed in greater detail. Especially the service network divides the citizens’ emotions and opinions. In larger cities people are content with the connections offered, whereas in more rural areas the service connections are disappointing. Experiences with schedule reliablity, time spent in transit, and the amount of available options are most often negative. Overall functionality and trustworthiness are seen as positive aspects.


”The impact of public transport’s service level on the citizens’ emotions and behavior is not engaging. Based on the study results, the service level does not bring competitive advantage to the public transport. Instead, it could be found in positive environmental effects, possibility to avoid usage of private motor vehicles, as well as travel comfort,” says NayaDaya Inc’s CEO Timo Järvinen.


The overall usage of public trasport during the last 12 months correlates with the larger proportion of positive emotions (those who have used public transport 50%, those who have not 34%). The percentage of negative emotions (one-fifth) is the same in the two user groups (used, not used). Moreover, a clearly higher number of people indicate insignificance in the group where public transport has not been used during the last year (used 29%, not used 46%). The most common emotions toward public transport among all respondents are contentment (20 %), relief (10 %), disappointment (9 %), interest (6 %), and fear (4 %).


Approximately 1000 respondents took part in the panel study which was conducted in cooperation with YouGov. The sample represents adult population in Finland. NayaDaya’s empathy analytics is based on the scientific emotions theory, University of Geneva’s research, and behavior predicting algorithm.


Facts about the study:

  • Emotion data pertaining to public transport was collected through YouGov online-panel 29.9.-1.10.2021

  • The quota sampling (N=1005) was implemented on the basis of age, gender, and geographic location to represent the Finnish population of 18 years or older

  • For the overall result the margin of error is approximately ±2,8 percentages

  • The background variables include age, gender, larger local area, education, professional group, household income, family stage, urbanization, and personal usage of public transport during the last 12 months

  • The data was analyzed with the NayaDaya® Empathy Analytics, based on the scientific theory, University of Geneva research and algorithm which predicts behavior and engagement levels

[1] Pre-existing scientific research independently conducted and published by the Geneva Emotion Research Group at the University of Geneva.

[2] Scherer, K.R., Fontaine, J.R.J, & Soriano, C. (2013). Components of Emotional Meaning. Oxford University Press.

[3] The Emotional Value Index (EVI) algorithm developed by NayaDaya Inc.


More information


Minna Soininen, Director, Finnish Public Transport Association, tel. +358 50 434 4514, minna.soininen@pllry.fi


Timo Järvinen, CEO, NayaDaya Inc., tel. +358 40 505 7745, timo@nayadaya.com


Finnish Public Transport Association is a co-operation organisation of public transport authorities in Finland. More information https://paikallisliikenneliitto.fi/en/


NayaDaya Inc. is an empathy analytics company that helps companies and organizations to focus their efforts in a responsible and effective way, through stepping into the shoes of people. Empathy study topics include external and internal brands, phenomena, and changes. The scientific NayaDaya® Empathy Analytics is based on data, emotions, and the algorithm that predicts behavior. Further information at https://www.nayadaya.com