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Mumbai ready to pay ₹179 more to travel an hour less

The study assigns value to the time people spend travelling

mumbai Updated: Jun 09, 2018 01:16 IST
Snehal Fernandes
Snehal Fernandes
Hindustan Times
Mumbai travel,public transport in mumbai,Mumbai
The study assigns value to the time people spend travelling.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)

Mumbaiites who do nothing on their usually long commute between home and work are willing to pay up to ₹179.2 more to save an hour’s travel time. Those who use the time to read, speak with co-passengers or surf the Internet on their smartphones are not willing to pay as much, the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IIT-B) said, in a study that could give urban planners pointers on how to make your commute better.

The study assigns value to the time people spend travelling. This is called Value of Travel Time Savings, or VTTS, and it is the amount individuals are willing to pay to save an hour. The average VTTS a Mumbaiite who does nothing while travelling by public transport, using a private vehicle, cycling or walking is ₹179.2. A person occupied during the time is willing to pay, on an average, 26% less — ₹132.2 to save an hour of travel time. The researchers said the outcome of the study is important for policy makers and transport planners to understand how the value attached to travel time reduces when an individual is able to do other things while travelling. They used the example of popular cab aggregator, Ola, which has info-tainment devices in their cars to keep commuters engaged. Varun Varghese, the principal investigator of the study from the Centre for Urban Science and Engineering (CUSE), IIT-B, said transport planners must now prioritise public transport modes. “If a public transport mode can enable individuals to involve themselves in a multi-tasking activity, they will also attach value to that particular travel,” he said.

“So the 26% reduction in VTTS can be used to justify investment in public transport systems, where people can be provided with an environment inside the mode that makes multi-tasking feasible,” said Varghese.

The two-member IIT-B team surveyed 1,123 individuals about their travel, and whether they multi-task. The team found that the individuals made 4,452 trips over two days in 2016 – an average of 1.98 trips a person every day.

Those who did not indulge in any activity said they either gazed out of the window or got bored. Multi-tasking included sleeping, talking to other passengers, eating, Information and Communication Technology(ICT)-based reading, such as on gadgets, and reading a newspaper or a book, using social media services such as Facebook and Twitter, or text messaging and making phone calls, listening to music, playing games, and working.

Among travellers who multi-tasked, the ones who spent time talking to co-passengers were willing to pay the least – ₹84.7 – to save an hour of travel time. Researchers said this indicates the importance of companionship and its ability to influence an individual’s travel experience. This was followed by those who read newspapers or books (₹96.9). Travellers who listened to music were prepared to pay the highest, even more than the ones who did nothing (₹223.6), followed by people engaged in eating (₹184).

Researchers said the reason for the sub-group who listened to music being willing to shell out the maximum amount could be the “passive nature of the multitasking activity”. “The activity in itself doesn’t require the traveller to be actively involved and it is as if they are doing nothing while listening to music,” the study stated.

The study revealed that travellers in 40.5% of the trips preferred doing nothing during their travel time, followed by reading (both ICT-based and non-ICT-based) sharing an equal space in 17.5% trips, talking to fellow passengers in 17.3% trips, sleeping and listening music in 7.9% trips each, surfing social media website during 4.6% trips, playing games on their ICT enabled devices in 2.5% trips, and working while travelling in 1.3% trips

First Published: Jun 09, 2018 01:16 IST