Travel Behaviour Response to Major Transport System Disruptions: Implications for Smarter Resilience Planning

This briefing paper by Greg, Jeremy, Jillian and Iain presents evidence collected from new studies of behavioural adaptation during disruptive events and uses this to identify four areas for action to improve how we plan for resilience and how we assess the worth of different types of investment strategy:

1.The development of Smart Resilience Strategies – which are a combination of transport and non-transport responses which work together to minimize the impacts of temporary infrastructure loss;

2.Measures to improve the usefulness, impact and co-ordination of communications with the public and businesses during disruptions, enabling social adaptation and reducing time wasted in unnecessarily perilous and extended journeys;

3.A continued programme of developing the capacity of travellers and businesses to adapt to different events through greater multi-modality and an increase in smart and flexible working practices; and
4.A reassessment of the approach to understanding the economic impacts of disruptive events which extends well beyond the apparent reductions in flows and increases in journey times observed on the networks and captures the societal and economic impacts in a more holistic way.

Travel Behaviour Responses report

Working Paper on the Governance of Smart Mobility

Iain, Greg and Jillian from the project have written up a working paper on the need to plan more effectively for the transition to ‘smart mobility’.

“The Governance of Smart Mobility will therefore require the Smart Governance of Mobility so that the conditions necessary to ensure that the smart transition is beneficial do in fact prevail, otherwise there is the real risk that the smart mobility system will develop in ways which fail to meet the societal goals which public agencies are there to promote.”
The Governance of Smart Mobility Working Paper version 03_2016

Report on York City Council Office Reorganisation

This short report aims to highlight the most important findings to emerge from a survey conducted by the Disruption project into the impacts of the recent workplace reorganisation implemented by the City of York Council (CYC). As part of the reorganisation CYC consolidated its offices and workforce in 2013 from 17 sites to just 2 sites, West Offices and Hazel Court. In addition CYC also introduced new working practices that encouraged flexible working hours, ‘hot-desking’ and working from home. This was necessitated by a deliberate decision to reduce the desk space available at the two new sites compared to the previous 17 sites.

The two new initiatives had the potential to cause disruption, both positive and negative, to CYC employees in a number of ways. The consolidation of office space might lead to longer or shorter commuting journeys for employees, a potential change in routes, a potential change in modes and more/less complex trip chaining, (e.g. dropping children at school on the way to work). New working practices might be welcomed by some employees who enjoy the flexibility they can bring and less welcomed by others who prefer more structure and an office environment. They might lead to productivity gains at the individual and organisational level, or losses if employees are not able to connect and engage with colleagues at appropriate times.
WP3 – CYC_Reorganisation_Final Report June 2015
York CC

Annual Transport Practitioners Meeting

The Disruption project will be arriving en masse at the Annual Transport Practitioners Meeting in London on 1st and 2nd July 2015.

The project will be giving four presentations covering different aspects of the project as well as running a workshop covering the overall ‘Fleximobility’ concept that we have generated from the project.

The presentations will be:

Responses and adaptability to disrupted travel patterns – a questionnaire study (Jillian Anable, Thomas Budd and Tim Chatterton)

Spatial, temporal and social factors in everyday mobility and modal choice – 3 years of ethnographic studies (Noel Cass and James Faulconbridge)

Disruption as it happens – a selection of responsive case studies (Greg Marsden and Jeremy Shires)

Defining and delivering sustainable transport: who has the power to change the way we travel? (David Williams)

Disruption and Fleximobility at the ECEEE Summer Study

In the first week of June, Jillian and Tim took the Disruption project to the European Council for and Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE) Summer Study in France.

Jillian gave a presentation on “Rethinking habitual travel patterns – what might ‘flexi-mobility’ mean for sustainable transport policies?”, prior to a well attended workshop session exploring the fleximobility concept in an international context with the mixed academic and practitioner paticipants.

Moving Behaviours Events

We will be working with the Travel Behaviours Network ( to organise two end of project engagement events with the Future Cities Catapult and the Transport Systems Catapult.

The events will be held at the Future Cities Catapult in London on Monday 15th June, and at the Transport Systems Catapult in Milton Keynes on the Tuesday 23rd June.

Further infomration can be found here:

Disruption Panel Session on “Unlocking Low Carbon Mobility” at American Association of Geographers

On 24th April, the project organised a panel session at the American Association of Geographers Annual Conference in Chicago.

The panel session was chaired by Tim Chatterton, with Disruption members James Faulconbridge, Jillian Anable and Iain Docherty on the panel alongside Tim Schwanen from the University of Oxford, Harvey Miller from Ohio State University, Katherine Reese from American University and Deborah Salon from Arizona State University.

Session Details

Scales of Disruption: Methods, Experiences and Insights for Change

On Tuesday 10th February, the Disruption Project held a joint workshop with the AHRC “Material Cultures of Energy” project at Birkbeck College in London.

The aim of the workshop was to take stock of current approaches to disruption, to reflect on methodologies and to think about insights for attempts to change how we live. The various scales of disruption (temporal, spatial, planned/unplanned; novel/repetitive) were used as a way into this multi-faceted subject.

Questions were asked about what disruptions can reveal about the workings of infrastructures and the importance of particular habits or practices in people’s lives. Individuals’ and institutions’ experiences of disruption as a practical, emotional and moral event, were discussed and what these can tell us about the degree of flexibility and expectations of a “normal life”. The overall aim was to gather insights from the research for practitioners thinking about managing disruption in the future, and how and when disruption is seen as a threat to established systems and daily routines, and when as a catalyst for change and innovation.

In the course of the day, the discussion of these different scales and dimensions was linked to the perspectives of practitioners (from DECC, Defra, TfL and Climate UK) who are confronting disruption with a final session bringing together the insights from disruption for our understanding of “normal” life and the potential for change.

AHRC/EPSRC Disruption Workshop