Time Travel Research

Imagine being able to come back to your work site if you’re not there already: 

How could the time you spend travelling to work be better?  

Would it be: better connected public transport links? An easier way to see options of getting from A to B? A different schedule for travel? Having a driver? Feeling safer cycling on the road? Simply spending less time on the road? 

This is a question the Time Travel project is exploring.  

We’d like to understand what would make Travel Time into time well spent.  

To fill gaps between public transport, and employees getting to Microsoft buildings in Redmond, Washington USA, Microsoft started a Connector Shuttle Service to make it easier for folks to get to and from work, and to and from various campuses. Do we need a connector service? Would the cost of taking pressure off parking offset that cost/benefit? How do we support building services dynamically based on demands? Do we need a Zip Car service close by?  


In this first phase of the project, to help answer this and related questions, the Time Travel Project is building the most detailed model ever of our campus community’s travel patterns. We’ll share the ways we get to work to identify where the challenges are.  

Everyone on campus will have the chance to describe their regular transport needs, and the motivations behind them. Then we’ll bring our findings back to YOU for thoughts on how we might co-design strategies to improve our Time Travel. 


We’re very interested in supporting projects – from course projects, to internships, to Research Fellowships based on 3-12m proposals.  

We’re working on research from Artificial Intelligence to Human-Computer Interaction, and collaborating with teams across campus – Estates and Facilities, and the Transportation Research Group – experts in transportation.

For example:  

  • How can we create more usable ways for people to interact with their transport plans and patterns; to collect data, share strategies, and pilot ideas?
  • How can we incentivise strategies for trading out one’s parking pass? What would make that work?  
  • Analyse travel survey data, combine it with other sources, and build visualisations to understand the different modes of transport and reasons for using them. 
  • Investigate specific interventions to reduce car use based on the available data. Examples are making parking permits more flexible; running shuttle buses; subsidising public transport; encouraging ride sharing; etc. Part of the project is to build models to predict people’s behaviour for different interventions. 
  • Build a recommender systems engine for day to day use, e.g. the best mode of transport given constraints and preferences. 
  • Develop effective incentives to foster environmentally-friendly modes of travel. For instance, which incentive options (e.g. free parking, bus tickets, or cycling training) are most effective considering resource limitations (e.g. parking space or number of buses) and given data on travellers’ preferences? 

Email Dr Enrico Gerding, eg@ecs.soton.ac.uk, to find out more about project opportunities.