Journal article

Intensive travel time: an obligation or a choice?

This paper explores what prompts some individuals to spend a significant amount of time travelling. In the literature, travel time tends to be regarded as useless, unproductive time and, in some cases, as the worst time of the day. The actual behaviour of intensive travellers challenges this view of travel time. A mixed approach that combines quantitative and qualitative methodologies was adopted. A survival analysis of daily travel time in eight European cities gives a quantitative definition of intensive travellers. Qualitative interviews with intensive travellers explore the various dimensions of choice and/or obligation that are responsible for these extreme daily travel times. The results show that roughly 20 % of the individuals in the sample for each city have long travel times (more than 100 min a day). The quantitative analysis also suggests that the behaviour of these individuals is atypical and cannot be explained solely by the characteristics that are considered in standard travel surveys. A qualitative sociological approach supplements the quantitative approach and illustrates that the allocation of travel time is not only determined by the activity pursued at the destination or the mode of transport but also by other factors such as personal beliefs and the perception of travel time. The positive perception of travel time as time to be used constructively or enjoyed influences the decision to travel intensively and, above all, contributes to its long-term acceptability. A number of political issues depend on travel behaviour and therefore, to some extent, on time management. New patterns of behaviour with regard to time management help explain the expansion in the range of individual travel.


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