2008 volume 26(5) pages 860 – 874

Cite as:
Watts L, Urry J, 2008, "Moving methods, travelling times" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 26(5) 860 – 874

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Moving methods, travelling times

Laura Watts, John Urry

Received 5 August 2007; in revised form 18 December 2007; published online 9 May 2008

Abstract. In this paper, we consider the passenger experience of travel time, and its translation into a transport model of travel time, which is of great significance in the potential funding and construction of infrastructural projects. In the economic appraisals of such projects, which are often of massive scale and impact, it is presumed that travel time is wasted, dead, or empty, and therefore should be minimised. However, in this paper we show how travel time is filled with activities and fantasies. We show that there are multiple travel times and places, and not just a single measured clock time that has to be minimised in getting from point A to point B. Travel time is situated in the sociomaterial practices of travel, which include engaging with other passengers, interacting with wireless networks, views out of the window, things packed in one’s bag, and so on. We describe and evaluate various ‘moving methods’ for researching places on-the-move, from survey to ethnography. Finally, we consider how to disrupt the assumption in transport appraisal that such time is empty and should be minimised, and suggest new approaches for presencing the richness of passenger travel time in transport modelling.

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