Cities and their surrounding areas have to face rising mobility and infrastructural challenges due to the increasing urbanization. Correspondingly, a new category for aerial vehicles and shared mobility concepts called urban air mobility (UAM) has emerged, offering a new dimension: the skyscape. Electrical Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, also known as air taxis, are considered the vehicle foundation of UAM. Air taxis provide a local, emission-free and infrastructure-conserving mode of transportation. For successful integration into the public transportation network, the intention to use and the willingness to accept air taxis must be present among potential users. Another important indicator for future infrastructure planning is the willingness to pay. Therefore, Hartmut Fricke, Robert Brühl, Laura Riza and Patrick Planing conducted a study that aims to investigate the willingness to use and pay for air taxis in various urban scenarios. This study was developed through an interdisciplinary research background and offers a first approximation for regular trips for each scenario.
The study, conducted in the greater Dresden area in Germany, integrates diverse research perspectives across different urban transport scenarios: societal acceptance, intention to use and willingness to pay. The data collection took place in the greater metropolitan area of the city, with a final sample of 1,074 participants. QR codes leading to a quantitative online survey were distributed to passersby at various locations within the city and on the outskirts to ensure that participants from different city areas were queried.
To ensure applicability in practical contexts, three scenarios meticulously drawn from real-life contexts were selected. One central factor that remained constant among the scenarios was that the air taxi covers the distance about 30 % faster than a car, conventional taxi, or bus and that there is less risk of delay due to external influences, such as congestion. Scenario 1 explored the utilization of air taxis as an individual transportation choice for a special occasion. Specifically, the application for a trip to an opera performance (“limousine case”). This scenario was chosen since the Dresden opera is among the most well-known operas in Europa and the most popular tourist location in the area. Scenario 2 examined an individual route from the respondent’s home to the Postplatz, a public square in the city center of Dresden (“taxi case”). Since the respondents reported their postal code, approximate distances to the location could be calculated for each scenario. In Scenario 3, the use of an air taxi as part of a fixed-schedule network was presented for a mid-distance flight in the larger city area (“bus case”).
Main findings of survey
- Results indicated a restrained societal acceptance for air taxis among this sample in the greater Dresden metropolitan area.
→ Approximately half of the respondents indicated they do not want air taxis in Dresden in the future
- Results indicated a restrained intention to use air taxis among this sample, with most respondents stating that it is unlikely they will use air taxis in the future.
- Participants who would like to see air taxis in Dresden in the future would also be more likely to use them.
- The intention to use air taxis in the future was highest in the limousine scenario and a similar intention emerged for the bus scenario. In the taxi scenario, the intention to use was lower.
- The analysis revealed a significant difference in the intention to use air taxis between the limousine case and the taxi case, as well as between the taxi case and the bus case. No significant difference was found between the limousine and the bus scenarios.
- The PSM-light method was used to determine price willingness. For the limousine case, the computed willingness to pay is €30 per flight. In the second scenario, the taxi case, participants’ willingness to pay is €15, and for the bus case, it is €18.
Overall, the data suggest that air taxis have not gained widespread acceptance yet, as approximately half of the respondents are not open to the idea of using them. The limited experience with air taxis, as they are not part of the transportation system, might contribute to the restricted acceptance of participants. Furthermore, the study reveals that people are more inclined to welcome the integration of air taxis into their cities if they perceive it as a technology they would use personally in the future. The scenario analysis revealed a greater inclination among respondents to use air taxis for special occasions compared to everyday commuting scenarios, indicating that people are more likely to consider air taxis for unique events rather than as a primary daily mode of transportation. Accordingly, consumers showed the highest willingness to pay in the limousine scenario. Based on this research, governmental authorities and industry stakeholders may consider the findings to develop a human-centered approach for future mobility and ensure successful implementation in the mobility networks of the future.
The complete study is available for open access in the Transportation Research Journal.