, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 507–530 | Cite as

The digital revolution and worthwhile use of travel time: implications for appraisal and forecasting

  • Mark Wardman
  • Glenn Lyons


Savings in travel time and more specifically their monetary value typically constitute the main benefit to justify major investment in transport schemes. However, worthwhile use of travel time is an increasingly prominent phenomenon of the digital age. Accordingly, questions are increasingly being asked regarding whether values of time used by countries around the world based on their appraisal approaches are too high. This paper offers the most comprehensive examination of our theoretical and empirical understandings of international appraisal approaches and how they account for worthwhile use of travel time. It combines the economics perspective with wider social science insight and reaches the conclusion that past revolutions in transport that have made longer and quicker journeys possible are now joined by a digital revolution that is reducing the disutility of travel time. This revolution offers potential economic benefit that comes at a fraction of the cost of major investments in transport that are predicated on saving travel time. The paper highlights the challenges faced in both current and indeed potential alternative future appraisal approaches. Such challenges are rooted in the difficulty of measuring time use and productivity with sufficient accuracy and over time to credibly account for how travel time factors into the economic outcomes from social and working practices in the knowledge economy. There is a need for further research to: establish how improvements in the opportunities for and the quality of worthwhile use of travel time impact on the valuation of travel time savings for non-business travel; improve our understanding of how productive use of time impacts on the valuation of time savings for business travellers; and estimate how these factors have impacted on the demand for different modes of travel.


Value of travel time savings Travel time use Productive use of travel time Hensher equation Business travel Digital age 



We would like to thank to Richard Batley, Jonas Eliasson, James Laird, Peter Mackie and John Bates who have contributed to our understanding of issues discussed here. A Department for Transport funded scoping study into how travel time savings in the course of business trips might be valued provided an impetus to this paper, and we are grateful to Dan Thomas and Jake Cartmell of the Department for insight and guidance as part of that project. All views expressed here though are those of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Transport StudiesUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  2. 2.Centre for Transport and SocietyUniversity of the West of EnglandBristolUK

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