Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies

What can we learn from Disruptions?

Professor Greg Marsden, ITS The University of Leeds

29th Jul 2014  - Lecture Theatre 2 (Room 112), Level 1, St James Campus, The University of Sydney, 173-175 Phillip Street, Sydney, NSW 2000


Managing disruptions is a fact of life for transport planners and operators but the primary focus of disruptions is typically to get the system back up and running as fast as possible. This presentation describes the key findings from a major three year study in the UK into what we can learn by studying how people react (both in terms of activity choices and mobility choices) when faced with disruptions. This builds on a tradition of work on cities which suggests that moments where infrastructures fail to work properly reveal critical and taken for granted insights into why we behave as we do. The presentation will introduce a framework which has been used to bring together information on different disruptions (e.g. flooding, snow and ice, planned events and closures) and provide new empirical evidence on a sample of the disruptions we have studied. The presentation will then turn to what we have learnt about flexibility and adaptability. The ultimate aim of the project is to provide new insights into how we might design more effective travel behaviour change programmes and these will be put forward for debate.


Greg is Director and Professor of Transport Governance at the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds. His research interests relate to understanding decision-making processes within local and national government, performance management, governance reform processes and citizen participation. He is currently working on issues relating to carbon governance, disruptions, resilience and energy demand reduction. He has acted as specialist adviser to the UK Parliamentary Transport scrutiny committee.