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MOP - The German Mobility Panel

MOP - The German Mobility Panel

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Vortisch
Dr.-Ing. Bastian Chlond
M.Sc. Lisa Ecke
M.Sc. Tim Hilgert


What is the German Mobility Panel (MOP)?

Up-to-date information about person travel and mobility behavior is indispensable for transportation policy decisions and planning. Only on the basis of such information the transportation infrastructure can be designed and preserved in order to meet the needs of the population - today and in the future.
Since 1994 the German Mobility Panel surveys such essential information on an annual basis - for example information about travel mode use, travel purposes or travel time of the German population. For the purpose of collecting such information entire households are interviewed about their every day mobility behavior. Each household member fills in a travel diary in which he records each trip made during the course of one week. With this information the survey participants substantially contribute to the sustainable development of the transportation infrastructure. In addition to this the MOP surveys the mileage driven with private vehicles in Germany as well as their fuel consumption.

Who is responsible for the MOP and who conducts the survey?

The MOP is being carried out on behalf of and financed by the German Federal Ministry of Transport an Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). The market and opinion research institute tns infratest carry-out the field work of the survey. The Institute for Transport Studies of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is responsible for the design and scientific supervision of the survey.

The MOP surveys multiday and multiperiod travel data

Since 1994 the German Mobility Panel surveys passenger travel behavior on an annual basis: The members of households participating in the survey report on their travel behavior by filling in a one week trip diary. In addition to this, the MOP polls the same households each year. Thus, it combines elements of multiday and multiperiod surveys.

Like data of one-day cross-sectional mobility surveys the MOP data can serve as the basis for descriptive mobility statistics, such as the general development of travel demand over time.

However, the possibilities of multiday and multiperiod data go beyond this. On the one hand, with such data it is possible to gain insight it into how travel demand evolves with the maturation of individuals or households or as the external environment changes. Moreover, surveying individual travel behavior over the time span of one week allows for insight in personal behavior as well as the routines and variations of everyday life. With one-day cross-sectional data such analysis is not possible because individual behavior on a single day can be strongly influenced by random factors.

MOP survey set-up

The MOP was established with the objective of providing for multiday and multiperiod data of daily travel. It comprises elements of longitudinal-sectional surveys as well as panel surveys. In order not to overburden the participants the MOP was designed as a rotating panel survey, i.e. responding households participate in the survey during three consecutive years. During this time their report on their travel behavior in a 7-day-24-hour mobility diary. After the three years of participation they are replaced by newly recruited households.

With this survey set-up the MOP has been conducted since 1994. 1996 was the first year that contained data of three complete waves of MOP-participants, first-time, second-time and third-time participants. Since that time, the MOP-data allows for detailed studies of individual longitudinal behavioral patterns. One example is individual mode use during an entire week and changes to this behavior from one year to the next.

To develop solutions and to take decisions reliable and up-to-date data about modal choice and the use of transport means is required for transport planning and politics. This data can be used to estimate long-term changes in transport demand under changing general conditions
Facing demographic changes specific mobility characteristics and their determining factors are the basis to estimate the transport demand in 30 or 40 years and the long-term requirements of transport supply. To establish intelligent intermodal transport solutions, the knowledge of the reasons of mobility decisions in every-day traffic is required.        
Placement of the MOP
In Germany, large one-day cross-sectional surveys of daily passenger travel are being conducted in time intervals of several years (Kontiv 1976, Kontiv 1982, Kontiv 1989, MiD 2002). These large scale cross-sectional surveys provide for statistically sound data on passenger travel at the respective points of time. However, the development of passenger travel demand needs to be observed between those points of time in order to have up-to-date data available.

In addition to the multiday and multiperiod approach the MOP is therefore designed to provide for current travel demand data between the Kontiv / MiD cross-sectional surveys. In order to comply with this two conditions have to met:

First, the survey design and the produced figures of travel demand of both the MOP-panel-survey and the cross-sectional Kontiv / MiD survey have to match. Recent research has proven the desired compatibility of the MiD and MOP surveys.

The second condition is that the MOP produces indicators for mobility behavior on an annual basis that are comparable over time. This requires a stable and unaltered survey set-up. This includes the actual diary survey as well as the participant recruitment process. Therefore the entire survey set-up that has been established in the beginning of the MOP is still applied today and only minimal changes have taken place.