Skip to main content

Time, justice and the future of mobility

Essays in philosophy of transport

Time: Thu 2022-04-28 10.00

Location: F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26 & 28, Stockholm

Video link:

Language: English

Subject area: Philosophy

Doctoral student: Maria Nordström , Filosofi

Opponent: Professor Ibo van de Poel, University of Delft, Netherlands

Supervisor: Docent Karin Edvardsson Björnberg, ; Docent Sven Ove Hansson, ; Professor Muriel Beser Hugosson, Centrum för transportstudier, CTS; Professor Anders Karlström, Centrum för transportstudier, CTS

QC 20220404


This thesis in philosophy consists of an introduction and five papers on three themes related to transport: valuations of time, the metric of transport justice, and future mobility solutions. 

The first paper analyses the properties of time as an economic resource taking into account literature on behaviour concerning time. The intent is to add to the understanding of the underlying assumption of transferability between time and money in the context of transportation.

The second paper is on the metric of transport justice. If we are concerned with distributive justice in the context of transportation, what type of good is being distributed? So far, most of the transport literature on transport justice takes accessibility to be the most appropriate metric. However, I argue that many operationalisations of accessibility are insufficient as metrics of justice. They are both too narrow and exclude relevant burdens of transportation. Additionally, accessibility can be achieved by other, non-travel-based means. I end by formulating tentative criteria for an alternative metric of transport justice. 

The third paper considers temporal justice in the context of transportation. Building on an argument against the claim of substitutability between time and money, I argue that temporal perspectives have been overlooked in the literature on transport justice. In part, this might be due to accessibility being the established metric of justice. Most common measures of accessibility do not capture temporal constraints and might consequently not capture temporal inequalities. Based on the case of gender differences in travel patterns and behaviour, I argue that an alternative account of the appropriate metric of transport justice is needed to capture temporal constraints and reflect gender inequalities sufficiently. 

The fourth paper argues that the diversity of possible mobility solutions based on self-driving vehicles has been somewhat overlooked in the current literature on the value of travel time. Thus, the complexity of valuing travel time for self-driving vehicles has not been fully addressed. The paper consists of a morphological analysis of the parameters that might impact the value of travel time for self-driving vehicles and a deeper analysis of five plausible self-driving vehicle mobility concepts. It is claimed that not all such concepts can be easily mapped into transport modes. It might be more appropriate to differentiate the value of travel based on travel characteristics.

The fifth paper is a literature review of work on attitudes toward automation technology, specifically self-driving vehicles. In particular, I examine the narratives and values related to gender. Generally, women tend to be more sceptical of the prospect of automated vehicles. The review found that this tendency is often explained by women being more risk-averse and less tech-savvy. Moreover, the policy recommendations in the examined literature based focus on educational efforts. Such perspectives can downplay or neglect valid reasons why women are less enthusiastic. Moreover, needs related to women's specific travel patterns might not be considered in the design and planning process. In conclusion, more awareness in needed of the gender differences, needs and expectations to ensure that future transport solutions are designed with everyone in mind.