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Why Is Internet Access Making Travel Time More Productive?

Why Is Internet Access Making Travel Time More Productive?

Lately, perceptions around the value of time have shifted, especially when it comes to travel time. This change has been propelled by advances in technology, and in particular information and communication technologies (ICT). Passenger mobility is on the rise, and unlimited access to real-time information about travel journeys through passenger information systems is a massive advantage.

Apart from increased ridership, internet access on public transport can reduce car dependency and make transportation more sustainable. Let’s explore how.

The changing attitudes towards travel time

Internet use on mobile technologies has impacted the value of time, especially time spent on public transport, as shown by a recent study conducted at the University of Glasgow. The study examined the relationship between Internet use while commuting and travelling and modes of transport. This means that providing internet access on public transport could increase ridership, even amongst people who might prefer to commute by car.

In the UK, one of the most favoured modes of transport is rail travel. In pre-pandemic times, there were a whopping 461 million passenger rail journeys made in 2019-20 Q3. While passenger journeys fell to 139 million in 2020-21 Q3, the second quarter of the financial year 2021-22 was busier. This period saw an uprise by 78.4%, reaching a total of 248 million rail passenger journeys.

Although passenger rail journeys were less frequent in 2020-21 Q3, the average commuting time in Great Britain by national rail was still an impressive 63 minutes. The average travel time for bus and coach travellers in the UK was 40 minutes. With an average of 51.5 minutes per journey, travel time plays a vital role in our daily lives.

Travel time has traditionally been viewed as wasted time, also known as the value of travel time (VOTT) according to economic appraisals and evaluations. However, we’ve seen a shift in attitudes towards travel time in recent years. In today’s business-oriented world, the mantra of “time is money” is used frequently. To follow this, travel time can be turned from wasted time to more productive time. Commuters can use their commute to read a book, meditate, or listen to motivational speakers. Alternatively, they can also turn it into business ad-hoc time.

It’s in that avenue that the use of technology comes into play. Having railway Wi-Fi connectivity means that commuters can use their laptops or mobile devices to perform work, prepare for business meetings, arrange their work diaries, or study. This allows for a seamless and useful passenger experience that is likely to increase ridership.

Shifting towards a sustainable mode of transport

People who prefer cars can also be encouraged to use public transport more often through the implementation of passenger-friendly policies on trains, such as Internet access, shown in the abovementioned study. This will discourage car dependency.

Other initiatives include the Friendly WiFi certification, a government-initiated safe certification standard for public WiFi, ensuring a safe and filtered public browser. Nomad Digital are proud to be an Approved Provider of Friendly WiFi.

Moreover, the study indicates that public transport commuters can benefit more from Internet access than car commuters. Naturally, this is because public transport commuters are less restricted when travelling than drivers. Nevertheless, drivers can also benefit from accessing real-time travel information, but don’t have as much flexibility as public transport commuters. Moreover, private cars are a less sustainable mode of transport than public transport. To put things into perspective, let’s look at CO2 emissions per km travelled from the three main modes of transport: standard diesel car (one passenger), standard diesel car (four passengers), bus, and domestic rail.

As we can see from the graph, a 1-passenger car emits 171g CO2/km. However, sharing a car between four people means this amount is split between passengers, reducing emissions to 43g CO2/km per person. Buses emit 104g CO2/km, while domestic rail produces 41g CO2/km. Domestic rail is the most sustainable mode of transport, followed by carpooling and buses.

Increasing public transport ridership through the increased use of ICTs and Internet access has a host of benefits. It not only helps passengers make the most of travel time but also reduces CO2 emissions and sustains the planet.

The public transport industry has an array of opportunities available to both optimise passengers’ journeys and travel time and to also encourage the use of more sustainable modes of travel. All of this is possible due to the increased use of ICT.

CO2 emissions graph