The 7.39, mobile communication and train travel

REPLACEMENT_The transport debate [FC]What people do with their time on the train has suddenly become the subject of some rather animated discussion following the airing of the BBC drama The 7.39 this week. Whilst we’re not aware of any research into the prevalence of illicit relationship formation during the morning commute (!), in the last few years academic attention has turned to wider questions about how people structure their lives around the journeys they make. As part of this, we’ve begun to challenge some longstanding assumptions about how and why we travel in the ways that we do. Particularly important is the revolution in information technology represented by smartphones, tablets and the mobile internet, which is transforming our travel choices. There is even some emerging evidence that being able to remain connected to friends and families (not to mention s/he at the other end of the carriage studiously avoiding eye contact but with whom you have just spent the night) online whilst travelling is now more important to many people than owning a car, something that could have profound implications for future transport policy. As it might also do for the future prospects of middle aged property executives with a habit of leaving their phones lying around.

Jon Shaw and Iain Docherty’s The transport debate, which explores transport policy in the UK by following the journeys of another fictional suburban couple as they go about their everyday lives, is now available from Policy Press.

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