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Multi-tasking while travelling: data, methods, policy


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Sunday 1 October 2023
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
Dr Chiara Calastri
Additional supervisors
Prof Mark Wardman
Institute for Transport Studies
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This project aims to advance the understanding of multi-tasking while travelling and how this affects the value of travel time. The traditional approach in travel behaviour research (until the early 2000s) has assumed that the time spent travelling is something that people are undoubtedly aiming to reduce, as they perceive it as unproductive and preventing them to perform other activities: in other words, wasted time. This assumption is based on the behaviour of a lone driver who is entirely focused on the task of driving, but seems unrealistic when thinking about public transport passengers and, even, more, future users of autonomous vehicles. Indeed, many studies have now shown that this view conflicts with the reality that most people conduct activities while they travel: people work, read or sleep on the train and bus, listen to music and talk on the phone while driving, and so on. The diffusion of increasingly advanced portable technological devices such as smartphones and laptops has made this phenomenon even more widespread, leading policy-makers to ask key questions about what people do while they travel, if their ability to multitask enhances their travel experience and satisfaction, and, fundamentally, if it affects their value of time. The latter is a key policy measure capturing the monetary value that travellers attribute to reducing the time they spend travelling. There is currently limited evidence about how the value of time spent travelling changes when people are conducting activities, and the existing evidence is largely limited to rail travel. The understanding of people multitasking behaviour and how this affects their value of time is also key in the face of emerging mobility tools such as autonomous vehicles, rideshare and urban air mobility. <br /> While the specific policy questions might vary across modes and purposes, the present project aims to adopt a comprehensive approach considering multitasking across modes (including active modes, driving, public transport and potentially emerging modes) and purposes. A particularly developed area of work is around the value of business travel time, and specific work can address questions in this area, if it is of interest to the student.<br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p style="text-align:start"><span style="font-size:medium"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="color:#000000"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="font-weight:400"><span style="white-space:normal"><span style="text-decoration:none">Against this backdrop, this project aims to:</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <ul> <li style="margin-left:8px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif">Exploit existing data as well as conducting new data collection to unveil what activities people conduct while travelling with different modes, including less-explored modes such as air and active travel.</span></span></li> <li style="margin-left:8px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif">Develop advanced models to incorporate behavioural complexity related to multitasking behaviour, e.g. heterogeneity, endogeneity and layered activities (additional levels of multitasking).</span></span></li> <li style="margin-left:8px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif">Calculate the value of time in different circumstances related to multitasking while travelling with different modes.</span></span></li> <li style="margin-left:8px"><span style="font-size:12pt"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif">Produce policy recommendations with the potential to impact large-scale value of time studies. </span></span></li> </ul> <p style="text-align:start">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align:start"><span style="font-size:medium"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="color:#000000"><span style="font-style:normal"><span style="font-weight:400"><span style="white-space:normal"><span style="text-decoration:none">The project will allow the student to learn to work with existing data sources as well as conduct new data collection. They will have access to high-quality training in choice modelling and work with advanced models. If interesting for the student, international comparisons can be incorporated in the project.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is Multi-tasking while travelling: data, methods, policy as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Chiara Calastri</a> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>The project does not have specific funding attached to it, but if interested please get in touch and the supervisors will be able to help perspective students identify and apply for suitable scholarships. The start date may vary depending on funding.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information please contact the PGR Admissions Team<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>