Project details

Full project title: From slow slog to inspired indulgence: enriching the experience of travel by public transport

Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Department for Transport

Research student: Billy Clayton

Supervisory team: Professor Graham Parkhurst, Dr Juliet Jain and Dr Tilly Line

Start date: October 2008

Finish date: September 2011

Research briefing sheet: Download the briefing sheet document (PDF)

Project summary

Previous research by the Centre for Transport and Society in collaboration with sociologists at Lancaster University and funded by EPSRC investigated 'travel time use in the Information Age'. This work explored the nature of people's travel time use and the ways in which and the extent to which they value their travel time. Key concepts are those of 'transition time' and 'time out/for'. People need time 'in transit' to make the transition between their different life roles (eg going from breakfast with the children to chairing the meeting). People also welcome the 'interspace' of travel as an environment that provides time for them - to be selfish, to 'zone out', contemplate, relax, work or study.

This research has also underlined important ways in which information and communications technologies (ICTs) play a part in travel time use. These can be supportive but also potentially disruptive. Upon conclusion of the project it was clear that the research had identified fruitful avenues of possibility for influencing and promoting the travel experience and thus potentially influencing people's travel choices - notably in favour of public transport.

Ideas in Transit provides an opportunity to take this work further forward and this PhD studentship is to do this. The purpose of the PhD research is to delve more deeply and specifically into people's time use associated with public transport. The PhD aims to support the goal of the main project to uncover user innovation.

The starting premise is as follows. People, increasingly are accompanied by ICT when they travel. Many people face the challenge of managing their time and activity schedules and thus the 'times out' taken for travel are important and constitute a motivation for them to think of ways to use that time to good effect.

Provisional goals of the PhD (which may be changed) are as follows:

  • to identify the diversity of specific ways in which people pass their travel time on journeys concerning buses and/or coaches and the part played by the availability and use of ICT;
  • to establish the ways in which such travel time uses add value to the travel experience for the individuals concerned;
  • to identify particular time uses that are 'unconventional' and which would constitute user innovations (or at least user inventions);
  • to explore the reactions of a wider set of travellers (car users and bus/coach users) to the prospect of adopting travel time user innovations and how this might affect their travel choices; and
  • to consider ways in which policymakers and industry might support and/or benefit from promoting one or more of these innovations.