Research Output

Quotidian bus journeys: City life reflections on Lothian buses.

  The main objectives of this research are to investigate the interaction between the city of Edinburgh, Lothian Buses (Edinburgh’s principal public transport provider) and people using specific bus routes within the city boundaries. A single overarching question dominated the
nature of this research: ‘What can we know about the local character of the city from the vantage point of the bus?’

The primary means of data collection were systematic participant observations along specific bus routes from 2004 to 2005. Consideration moves beyond solely examining the interaction between passengers, and treats the bus and the city as complex phenomena with which people have an interactive relationship. Through these observations, it explores the ways in which the bus is more than a mode of transport that links places, and instead maintains that the bus network forms its own multi-stranded signature within the city. Unravelling these strands reveals a mobile place where heterogeneous types of bus users engage in sense making procedures. In addition, the quotidian conversations that take place within the bus add their
own unique rhythms and provide an added dimension to city life.

Analysis draws on these systematic observations, delving beneath the surface of the familiar practice of bus travel, seeing the new in the familiar and subjecting these observations to philosophical enquiry. This research also considers the multifarious dimensions of the
embedded experience of travel within its in-situ spatial and temporal imagination. The changing temporal and spatial nature of the bus creates a highly complex place within which contested identities produce knowable and recognisable corporal inscriptions upon the bus.
Through the everyday practices and accomplishments within the lifeworld, we treat the city as a work in progress, in which there is an enduring tension between a community’s need for inclusiveness and the concomitant practices that contribute to the process of exclusion.

The embodied time spent travelling is the substantive life-blood of this thesis and the rich veins of the bus network present themselves as an essential part of the city’s anatomy. In chorus, the theoretical foundation reflects upon itself as principled speech.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 May 2008

  • Publication Status:



Noble, A. F. Quotidian bus journeys: City life reflections on Lothian buses. (Thesis)


Edinburgh City; Lothian Buses; Passenger observations; Social interactions; Bus network; Social strands; Travel experience; Spatial imagination; Temporal imagination; Inclusiveness; Exclusion; Conversation;

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