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Commuting with new transport infrastructure: change, cost and comfort on the Sofia metro extension

Plyushteva, AE; (2016) Commuting with new transport infrastructure: change, cost and comfort on the Sofia metro extension. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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New transport infrastructure reshapes existing everyday mobility arrangements, and is shaped by them in return. This study examines commuting practices as on-going economic, temporal, spatial and affective reconfigurations, following the launch of the second line of the Sofia metro in 2012. The study explores the ways in which qualitative research on everyday mobility practices can help address some of the challenges of appraising the usefulness of transport infrastructure. Data were collected using repeated ride-along interviews with respondents who became metro commuters following the expansion of the Sofia metro network; ride-along interviews with other commuters; ethnography and auto-ethnography; and archival research. These methods highlight the role of longitudinal qualitative data in understanding the embodied experiences of routine public transport use. The analysis considers the frequent metro users’ perspectives on the economic and temporal costs of travel as subjective and embodied practices, arguing qualitative data can augment, rather than replace, quantitative appraisals of transport infrastructure. The collected data also point to the distributed nature of commuters’ comfort and stress, by tracing comfort and stress through the collective, habitual, socio-material affordances of the rush hour. This view complicates the solitary figure of the mobile subject which forms the basis of much of existing transport research. Finally, a framework for thinking about habit and change in everyday mobility is presented. In this study, habit and change are not compartmentalised phases in travel behaviours and biographies, but mutually constitutive arrangements. By exploring modal and non-modal variabilities and shifts, an argument for travel behaviour research beyond mode and lifestyle categories is presented. Through an in-depth engagement with the costs, durations, multimodality, variability, and the comfort/stress of commuting, the thesis contributes to efforts to develop new and different approaching to conceptualising the role in public transport infrastructure in the social and environmental sustainability of cities.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Commuting with new transport infrastructure: change, cost and comfort on the Sofia metro extension
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1514417
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