Your mobile phone decides how you travel: IIT-B Survey
Although most-preferred use of time while travelling was spent ‘doing’ nothing, owning a smartphone and using more than 1GB data pack per month has a significant impact on how Mumbaiities spend their time while travelling, visiting a bank or relaxing.
Out of 1,123 Mumbaiites surveyed by the two-member team at Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), 48.7% owned a smartphone and 32.1% had internet pack of more than 1GB.
About 51.6% individuals without smartphones did nothing while travelling. But the percentage reduced (29%) for those using smartphones. Those opting for less than 1GB internet pack, 46.6% individuals reported no engagement in any activity, while 26.5% idled their time with more than 1GB usage.
Of all the activities, there was a marked difference in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based reading for individuals with smartphones and those using more than 1GB data pack. While 15.7% engaged in ICT-based reading on their smartphones, only 3.1% read with less than 1GB usage. But 22.4% read when their smartphone had more than 1GB usage.
“Use of mobile phone either supplements or complements travel behaviour, which has an impact on the reduction of travel demand,” said professor Arnab Jana, CUSE, IITB, also co-author of the study. “Using it for mandatory activities such as office work, social networking or even online shopping has positive connotations.”
The value of travel time while reading a physical book or online will be same since reading is the major objective. “Engaging in grocery shopping using an app, however, saves some amount of time in your life that you can spend with someone else or something else. This is a value addition because there is a difference in the objective,” said Jana.
As for gender, more women (45.4%) engaged in no activity or multitasked less as compared to men (37.5%). While the number of women and men who were occupied with non-ICT based reading, ICT-based reading, games, and eating were almost similar, more women (5.8%) took to social media as compared to men (3.9%). However, more men (9.2%) tuned in to music than women (5.6%).
The study found public transport as the most preferred more for multitasking because doing nothing decreased significantly while undertaking bus and train journeys.
While on the bus, 22.7% individuals multitasked by reading on their mobile devices, 16.7% talked to other passengers and 12.8% listened to music. During train journeys, 23.1% talked to their co-passengers, 16.9% caught up on their lost sleep, and 25.7% read on their mobiles phones or books/newspapers. For those who walked, 20.3% talked to other travellers and 6.9% listened to music.
Of the total trips undertaken by Mumbaiites, the highest (37.6%) were those of individuals returning home followed by mandatory trips (27.1%) that involves going to work, school, college, and maintenance trips (17.2) such as banking and shopping.
Three multitasking activities that were high on the list during mandatory trips was reading (both non-ICT and ICT-based) at 26.3%, sleeping (10.9%), and listening to music (10.7%). However, return journeys home saw second highest percentage of no-activity at 45% followed by talking to other passengers (23%). The highest percentage of no-activity was during maintenance trips at 57.6%, while the top two multitasking activities in the form of sleeping (21.7%) and talking to other passengers (17.6%) took place during leisure trips.
“Policy-makers might be interested in changing travel behaviour if the modal shift is towards public transportation. Policies such as providing internet within transport vehicles can encourage the same. However, creating an environment where more people from different socio-economic groups can perform multitasking is critical,” the study stated.
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