Transport Planning and Social Media in 2013

Transport Planning and Social Media in 2013


Richie Fraser, AECOM, Michael Nimmo, AECOM


The paper will review the use of social media in transport planning in 2013; conventional transport policymaking will be contrasted with the fast moving evolution of social media, and real world applications will be considered.


Transport planning and social media in 2013

Richie Fraser +44 141 222 6429
Michael Nimmo +44 141 222 6431

Crunch the numbers:
The population of the UK is around 65 million.
There are around 36 million people in the UK with driving licences.
There are 33 million people in the UK with Facebook accounts.
There are 10 million Twitter users in the UK - 80% access Twitter by smartphone
The most popular breakfast radio show in the UK attracts fewer than 9 million listeners.
The top selling newspaper in the UK sells 2.6 million copies daily.
All of these people are transport users.

Transport policies and strategies are slow. These reports take a long time to research, write, consult on, re-write and publish, and then remain "current" for many years afterwards.
Scotland's National Transport Strategy (NTS) was published in 2006; at the start of that year Twitter didn't exist. Location based social media app Foursquare launched in 2009. In early 2013 Vine, offering looping short video clips, is tipped as the next big thing. The 2006 strategy, not surprisingly, makes no reference to "social media".

The aims of transport planning are open to debate. For the purpose of this paper we consider the three key objectives outlined in Scotland's NTS:
1. Improved journey times and connections - making it quicker, easier and more reliable for passengers to travel between our towns and cities and across our global markets.
2. Reduced emissions - making sure that Scotland takes a lead in the future of sustainable transport.
3. Improved quality, accessibility and affordability - ensuring everyone across Scotland has high quality public transport choices.

This paper will examine the contribution social media tools already makes to addressing these issues, and what opportunities are yet to be fully exploited. The paper will consider the viewpoint of policymakers and of transport users.

This will NOT be a literature review, in the conventional sense at least. The first point of research will be the social media accounts of government, transport operators, campaigners and other stakeholders.

Good practice examples will be showcased, and a research exercise will be conducted to examine the available social media tools in three randomly selected cities.

We will compare the use of social media by transport planners with its use by other sectors aiming to influence behaviour.

Social media is not a tool appropriate for all transport users and we will comment on the dangers of over-reliance of online information.

The paper will further speculate on the shape of social media in transport planning by the next ETC conference in 2014.

The findings of the study will be submitted in a paper in accordance with the guidelines of the conference. However we propose to present the paper in a more interactive format - for example crowdsourcing content from conference delegates via social media, demonstrating live some of the best practice examples, and showcasing some of the ways transport planning messages can be broadcast online.

We hope you Like our #abstract.

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Association for European Transport