Institute for Transport Studies

MOP - The German Mobility Panel

Problem definition

The provision of an efficient transport infrastructure and its foresighted further development are the basic ideas of transport policy and transport planning. This requires constantly updated information on traffic events and the travel behavior of the population. Only on the basis of such information can the transport infrastructure be designed to meet people's needs - today and in the future.

Research approach

The German Mobility Panel (MOP) has been collecting information on travel behavior every year since 1994. It is collecting information for what purpose and with which means of transport people travel in Germany. Therefore, households are surveyed on their travel behavior in everyday life. The household members have to fill out a trip diary in which they record all their trips in the course of one week. With this information, they make an important contribution to the sensible design of transport systems. In addition, the MOP surveys the number of kilometres travelled by cars in private households as well as fuel consumption is collected.

The system is unique as a panel survey. The same people are asked the same questions about their travel behavior every year. The repeated cross-sectional surveys usually used as a data basis, on the other hand, record the travel behavior of other people for each survey. However, changes in behavior due to political or planning measures of one and the same person (intrapersonal changes) can only be recorded by a panel survey.

Another characteristic is the use of a reference date week. The travel behavior of the respondents is surveyed over the period of one week, the reference date week. Since the travel behavior of individuals is determined by routines, as is the case with many behaviors, a large part of the variation can already be recorded by observing a week. A survey on only one day can hardly capture this variation. The observation during a key date week is necessary, among other things, for the description of multimodal travel behavior. Multimodality here refers to the use of different means of transport over time for different journeys. Since a large part of the variations in travel behavior are recorded in the MOP by the survey of one week, a large part of the multimodal travel behavior can also be mapped.

With this form of survey and its design, which has remained almost unchanged for more than 25 years, the MOP is unique worldwide.


Graphical representation of a person's mobility over the course of a week