Passenger preferences of Hyperloop travellers

The peace and quiet that the Dutch traveller is looking for when going on a vacation cannot be found on airports these days. The increasing use of Schiphol is a problem that cannot be solved with the limited space around the airport and an extension to a nearby airport, such as Flevoland, is also not ideal. In addition, the inefficiency of flights at medium distances is something Schiphol is struggling with. The Hyperloop could offer a solution for both of these challenges. The Hyperloop would not only be more efficient, but its design would allow stations to be also placed underground. This minimizes the inconvenience for local residents. The Hyperloop is already well developed in the field of technology. However, in the area of social acceptance there still is much uncertainty. This article will focus on the acceptance of the Hyperloop for Dutch travellers.

“The aim of this research isto create knowledge for the European Commission and Hyperloop developers about the extent to which potential users are prepared to use the Hyperloop, taking into account the Hyperloop concept outlined by Delft Hyperloop. The resulting knowledge can be used as a source of information for the further development of the Hyperloop.”

The main question posed for this research, based on the objective, is: “What are the most important factors that influence the traveller’s choice between aircraft and a future Hyperloop?”

The main question has been answered through this research. The method used to perform this research was a choice experiment, in which the respondent had the choice between the respondent’s current air travel experience and a varying Hyperloop profile. The survey was distributed to Dutch travellers who use the aircraft at least once a year. The data that followed from the completed questionnaire was analysed by logistic regression. In each experiment, the Hyperloop scored differently on the properties of safety, CO2-emission, comfortability, station location, travel time and price. Afterwards, it was analysed how these properties influence the chance of someone choosing this Hyperloop, as well as their willingness to pay for these different properties. Apart from this, we explored the effect of different personal characteristics, like age and income, but also environmental awareness and claustrophobia, have on the choice for the Hyperloop instead of the airplane.

The most prominent results of this research are that safety and price are the main important properties of a future Hyperloop. They are the main deciding factors for whether a current air traveller prefers the Hyperloop over the airplane. An increase in a basic level of safety is regarded as very important, but travellers find it less important to have an extremely high level of safety. For the properties CO2-emission, comfortability and travel time, it definitely makes a difference when these are increased, as long as they do not significantly increase at the expense of safety or price. This research cannot say too much about the optimal location of the stations (i.e. a station being in or outside the city centre): further research should address this.

In terms of personal characteristics, the results are that innovation enthusiasts and risk-takers are good entrance groups to introduce the Hyperloop to the larger public, as they value price less, as long as safety and/or travel time is attractive enough. Furthermore, the fact that claustrophobic travellers choose a Hyperloop less frequently is a sign that the Hyperloop should feel safe and open to be an attractive alternative for everyone. It can therefore be regarded as important to incorporate user experience while designing a Hyperloop.

The recommendations that can be done based on this research to Hyperloop-developers and policy makers are that:

  • Safety should be the number one focus, as this is the main characteristic that future users attach value to;
  • As money is necessary for the development, and for being able to offer a Hyperloop trip for an attractive and competitive price, the recruitment of investors is essential for Hyperloop’s success;
  • It is very important to encourage creativity and innovation in the development of the Hyperloop, as rapid technological development is an essential aspect of Hyperloop’s continuation. The initiation of further research should help a great part in this. It could put more emphasis on aspects that have only slightly been covered by this research. For example, it could mimic the scope of this research in a different place or time context. Or, it could focus on Hyperloop’s acceptance from a different perspective, for example the local residents’ perspective. Essential in this is that the potential future travellers are kept informed about these developments. In this way, they are involved and are able to make a more well-informed consideration.

Based on the results described, the European Commission and the Hyperloop developers can take a step towards the implementation of a new transport system. As has been explained, new traveling methods are necessary, which should be faster, cheaper and above all safer. Safety should be one of the main focus points for a fully implemented Hyperloop-network. The findings, as explained, should give Hyperloop developers more guidance for the arrival of this revolutionary innovation.

By Teun van de Weijer and Sybe Andringa, October 2019

Teun van de Weijer and Sybe Andringa are two TU Delft students, faculty Technology, Policy and Management, who have performed research to Hyperloop’s future user willingness for their final Bachelor thesis. The results have been summarized in this article.

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