The factors in residents' mobility in rural towns of China: Car ownership, road infrastructure and public transport services
The improvement of rural people's mobility in developing countries has informed many policies. Still, debates remain on which policies are efficient, for instance, building more roads, providing public transport or promoting car ownership. The empirical evidence for these debates at the national level remains scarce.
As a result, this paper aims to provide fresh evidence for discussions by examining residents' mobility in China using nationwide survey data with 12,524 respondents from 119 rural towns.
The results of the analysis show car ownership is the most significant factor influencing rural people's mobility than other factors. Higher car ownership relates to a higher travel frequency to counties or cities. Other kinds of transport vehicles (i.e. electric cars, motorcycles and electric bikes) also have positive but relatively weaker impacts on rural mobility. For public transport, it is easier to access bus stops, which encourages travel to higher-order centres rather than increasing the frequency of county bus services. The accessibility of high-quality road systems tends to have a negative influence and has combined effects with levels of local services. People from towns with insufficient local services and poor access to highways travel the most frequently to higher-order centres.
This study highlights the critical role of road investments and car ownership enhancement policies in improving mobility. Moreover, this study also underscores the supplemental role of public transport services given the current low car ownership rates in rural towns of China and the global consensus on sustainable green transport development.
It highlights the importance of engaging eco-friendly and locally adaptive transport alternatives, such as electric cars and electric bikes. It also calls for a rational distribution of bus stops and more flexible, convenient, and physically accessible public transport and carshare modes in rural China.