Wasting time? The differentiation of travel time in urban transport

Weiqiang Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent years have seen increasing academic interest in transport and the concept of travel time. In particular, scholars have tried to open up travel time to alternative modes of understanding, taking it beyond its usual productivist associations with waste and useless idleness. The author, however, seeks to understand travel time in a different way. Rather than filling it up with activities, it is argued that travel time must first be recognized as constituted by, and constitutive of, society and its rhythms. As such, the author seeks to unpack its value in context, by thinking through its productions, structuring, and potential effects. With Singapore’s urban transport system taken as a case study, the inequitable ways in which travel time is refracted and experienced by different groups of commuters in this fast-paced city are considered. Specifically, how this time has been hastened for some, rescheduled for others, and rendered especially unpredictable for public transit users through various policies and constraints are put into relations. By attending to the unevenness of these differentiated processes, the author argues that a close contextual reading of transport and its manifold rhythms is indispensable if questions surrounding social equity and sustainability are to be adequately addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2477-2492
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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