Modal split in passenger transport

This indicator shows the total amount of passenger kilometres travelled by any means of transport. It allows us to estimate the size of the mobility system, as well as the number of kilometres travelled per mode of transport and per passenger.

85.2 billion kms/year

  • Taking into account all modes of transport, the total amount of kilometres travelled per year in Flanders is 85 billion.
  • The car is by far the most frequently used mode of transport, accounting for 75% of the total kilometres travelled.

What do we see?

In Flanders, the total number of kilometres travelled per year is 85 billion, which works out at about 13,000 kilometres per inhabitant. Even though the population has grown, the number of kilometres travelled has stagnated over the years. 

The spread over the different types of transport has remained the same. 75% of all travel is done by car. Public transport takes up a much smaller proportion, with an estimate of about 5% each for trains and public transport buses. Other buses account for a similar share.





What’s the aim?

These numbers show us which types of vehicles and how many of each we need to be able to move around. The fewer kilometres we travel, the fewer vehicles we need. Consequently, the lower the demand for materials will be, and vice versa. Provided that seat occupancy is sufficiently high, the kilometres travelled using public transport and lighter vehicles require fewer materials per person than a car. In a circular economy, the modal split must move away from cars. 

In terms of the demand for materials, kilometres travelled by bike tilt the scales a lot less than other vehicles. With this in mind, speed pedelecs are a very interesting alternative to cars, but their use is not yet included in the data above. In a circular economy we want to see a shift towards ‘light’ mobility. 

For a more detailed interpretation of the data above, we would need more details about vehicle fleets, kilometres per vehicle and seat occupancy for the different types of vehicles. Overall, there has so far been no substantial evolution in the modal shift towards public transport or bicycles. Therefore, more effort is needed here.

What does this indicator measure?

This indicator sums up all kilometres travelled over a one-year period by all inhabitants of Flanders using any type of vehicle: cars, buses, trains, trams, motorcycles and bicycles. For car kilometres we combine the number of vehicle kilometres – based on data from the Federal Public Service Mobility & Transport – with seat occupancy rates (PROMOVIA). To calculate the number of kilometres travelled by buses and trains, we use data obtained from the Flanders Environmental Report, supplemented with data from Statistics Flanders and travel behaviour research carried out by the Flemish Department of Mobility and Public Works. The number of kilometres travelled by tram, motorcycle, bicycle and on foot were taken from this same research report. As we only have car data up to 2017, we do not have any more recent calculations for this indicator.

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