How do users deal with their travel time? [Emergences # 4]

For the fourth feature within the “Emerging trends” section in the journal “Ville, Rail et Transports”, experts Emmanuel Ravalet (lecturer / researcher at LASUR / EPFL) and François Adoue (doctoral candidate / head of research at 6t) address the issue of time spent on public transport.

From the outset, the two authors emphasise the need to differentiate the real time spent on public transport and the perception that the traveller has:

“To be aware of the activities carried out on means of transport, the first element to consider is the time required for a commute- countable, minuted time, which most infrastructures seek to minimise. The activities which can be carried out directly depend upon this time (…) Beyond the time necessary, let’s focus on time made (…) This is the qualitative facet of travel time.  To attain ownership of one’s transport time means, in effect to find a means of conciliating time which is needed and time made to reduce perceived time.” Emmanuel Ravalet


“The perception of travel time impacts just as much as its actual duration on the experience of the commute. It is not, therefore, merely “physical” duration which determines whether the trip will be perceived as more or less long or more or less tedious” François Adoue


Emmanuel Ravalet in his article “Let’s take our transport time in hand”, explains that through a reduction of perceived travel time, people will be willing to make longer commutes and thus to live further out. Ownership of travel time may then have an impact on urban morphology.

François Adoue, in his article “The smartphone, a new travelling companion” chooses another approach and focuses on the reasons for the near-ubiquity of smartphones as new companions of our travels. Their surge in popularity may be explained by their multi-functionality, as well as by their user-friendliness (level of concentration, ease of use while standing, etc.) Furthermore, open data applications (open data)  compel the user to carry a smartphone in order to optimize their real-time travel.


Photo source: Henk Koning (Flickr) –

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