Is the bus boring?
Universities Transport Studies Group Conference, University of Aberdeen, UK, 3rd - 6th January, 2012., pp. 1-12
Contemporary research on travel-time use challenges the notion that travel-time is wasted, but is it always a positive experience? Previous studies have suggested that engaging in activity during travel-time increases the utility of a journey, and thus regaining and maintaining control over time on-the-move is hypothesised to have a positive effect on the passenger experience through a sense that the time has gained value. The results presented here challenge this finding in the specific context of bus travel.
To explore travel-time use in relation to the bus passenger experience, this paper draws upon data from a mixed-methods approach: online Facebook discussions, focus groups, and a survey of 840 bus passengers conducted in Bristol, UK. Despite travel-time activity on the bus being an integral part of many journeys, a consistent association with improvements in journey experience and service perception is challenged. The personalisation and privatisation of travel space through activities – from reading to listening to iPods – may be purposively sought to disengage from the bus community, however, such technology use and disengagement may be symptomatic of uncomfortable experiences such as boredom and stress, as opposed to a creator of positive utility or distinct experience of enjoyment. Furthermore, disengagement can negatively impact upon the sociality of the bus space. It is suggested that wider factors are of more primary significance than travel-time activity in forming perceptions and experiences. The conclusions will consider the implications for transport policy and bus operations.
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