Dr Nikolas Thomopoulos
Academic and research departmentsFaculty of Arts and Social Sciences, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Centre for Sustainability and Wellbeing in the Visitor Economy.
Dr Nikolas Thomopoulos is a Senior Lecturer in Transport. Previously he was a researcher at LSE Cities and at the Institute for Transport Studies of the University of Leeds, where he was also a Marie Curie fellow. He studied economics at the University of Macedonia in Greece, then completed his MSc at the University of Oxford and subsequently acquired his PhD from the University of Leeds. Following his studies in Greece, Germany and the UK he has contributed in a range of FP-6, FP-7, H2020 funded research projects and has advised start-ups as an independent business consultant. In the build-up to COP-21 he co-ordinated research within the New Climate Economy project which was funded by national governments, and collaborated with established academics and practitioners across the globe. In 2015 he was an advisor for the Best Conceptual Project of the London Planning Awards.
He has been an academic visitor at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the Chair of a RSA Research Network on 'smart' and 'green' regional growth, a contributor to the planning of the Surrey MaaS project and a member of UK academic missions to Brazil and China. In addition to being an evaluator of funding proposals, a member of Technical Programme Committees of large conferences, he has delivered keynote presentations at conferences, hosted international workshops, co-edited books and special issues about ICT for transport, urban mobility futures and autonomous vehicles. Currently he is a member of the Surrey Living Lab focusing on active travel, a UK representative at the Global Digital Human Rights Network and the Chair of WISE-ACT (Wider Impacts and Scenario Evaluation of Autonomous and Connected Transport), a research network of more than 150 experts in 42 countries.
Having more than 10 years teaching experience in the UK at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels has contributed in understanding the needs to enhance the learning experience of home and overseas students. He has supervised MSc and PhD dissertations, whilst he has delivered guest lectures at LSE, UCL, UPV and Westminster, including the delivery of executive education courses to British Government officials and to executives in Vietnam.
University roles and responsibilities
- Programme Leader International Tourism Management with Transport
- Research Seminar Series Co-ordinator
Affiliations and memberships
In the media
- Wider impacts of autonomous, automated and electric vehicles
- Managing transport to improve tourist wellbeing
- Data and privacy management policies
- Urban mobility innovation
Wider Impacts and Scenario Evaluation of Autonomous and Connected Transport
Incorporating the human aspect in the design and development of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles
WE-TRANSFORM is a H2020 project focusing on the impact of transport automation on the workforce.
Ready2Drive is a HEIF project focusing on the use of technology to support driving and accessibility for the aged.
Postgraduate research supervision
Currently supervising three Post-Graduate Researchers supported by University of Surrey and Hong-Kong Polytechnic. Research areas for PhD supervision cover the intersection of transport, tourism, environmental and socio-economic research, with a particular focus on business and policy challenges. Always willing to consider high quality research proposals in these areas linked to my projects and publications by interested PhD applicants.
- Travel and Transport (UG)
- Land Transport Systems (UG)
- Travel and Tourism Industries (UG)
- International Transport Policy and Planning (UG)
- Strategic Analysis of Hospitality Companies (UG)
- Strategic Management of International Hotel Companies (PG)
- Air Transport Management Consultancy Project (PG)
- Research Methods (PG)
The introduction of shared autonomous vehicles into the transport system is suggested to bring significant impacts on traffic conditions, road safety and emissions, as well as overall reshaping travel behaviour. Compared with a private autonomous vehicle, a shared automated vehicle (SAV) is associated with different willingness-to-adopt and willingness-to-pay characteristics. An important aspect of future SAV adoption is the presence of other passengers in the SAV—often people unknown to the cotravellers. This study presents a cross-country exploration of user preferences and WTP calculations regarding mode choice between a private non-autonomous vehicle, and private and shared autonomous vehicles. To explore user preferences, the study launched a survey in seven European countries, including a stated-preference experiment of user choices. To model and quantify the effect of travel mode attributes and socio-demographic characteristics, the study employs a mixed logit model. The model results were the basis for calculating willingness-to-pay values for all countries and travel modes, and provide insight into the significant heterogeneous, gender-wise effect of cotravellers in the choice to use an SAV. The study results highlight the importance of analysis of the effect of SAV attributes and shared-ride conditions on the future acceptance and adoption rates of such services.
Global concerns about climate change, as confirmed at COP21, have led to lower carbon emissions environmental policies, particularly in the road transport sector. Through an empirical analysis of low carbon vehicle (LCV) policies in California, this paper contrasts the findings from diverse distribution theories between income quintiles - used as a proxy for societal groups - to address vertical equity concerns and offer an overview of impact distribution to policy makers. Thus, it contributes in operationalising ethical theories within transport cost benefit analysis and revisiting impact distribution when promoting low carbon vehicles. Findings indicate that manufacturer penalties are the most effective policy measure to avoid cost transfer between stakeholders. Yet, the analysis shows that those purchasing small LCVs may face disproportional vehicle purchase cost increases which needs to be considered by policy makers. Thus, this paper makes a methodological contribution regarding CBA in practice as well as providing policy relevant recommendations.
Non-commuting journeys, which include social and recreational journeys, make up a substantial proportion of household travel and these journeys are largely taken by car. Autonomous vehicle (AV) deployment has the potential to dramatically transform the way people work and travel, as well as reshape leisure travel patterns. Yet, the wider societal implications of AVs beyond commuting, such as travel for leisure and tourism, have received minimal attention within transport literature. This state-of-the-art review follows PRISMA guidelines and begins to address this gap through a synthesis of 63 papers on AV travel focusing on non-commuting journeys, including those for leisure, tourism, shopping and visiting friends and relatives. Given the economic importance of the tourism sector and its inherent focus on non-commuting journeys, this analysis is supplemented with a review of the extent to which national tourism strategies of countries leading AV deployment include reference to AVs. The paper reveals an overwhelming focus on commuting journeys in existing AV studies as less than one-fifth of the reviewed academic sources include non-commuting as part of their wider analysis. The review's further key findings are that the interest of publics in AVs for leisure journeys appears to exceed that for commuting, sharing vehicles will be less likely when AVs are used for leisure and there is a lack of recognition in the literature that some non-commuting journeys will require a lower SAE level of automation. Surprisingly, analysis of the national tourism strategies of countries most prepared to meet the challenges of AVs shows that just three countries make specific reference to AVs within their national tourism strategies. The paper contributes to setting future AV policy agendas by concluding that two gaps must be narrowed: one, the distance between how academic studies predominantly conceive of AV use (commuting) and articulated public interest in AVs for non-commuting journeys; and two, the lack of readiness in certain national tourism strategies to accommodate AVs. As non-commuting journeys will be some of the earliest ways for which AVs will be adopted, the paper sets an agenda with a number of recommendations to aid in this transition.
Bicycle Sharing Schemes (BSS) are re-emerging as promising components of urban mobility solutions worldwide. However, the lack of consistent collaboration strategies between different actors and institutions, which have been tested in a wide range of cities and contexts regarding their design, tender, operation and expansion, raises significant social and governance implications. Urban transport features as a melting pot for diverse policy objectives, ranging from business model innovation, public tendering, and accessibility increase to the equity and social justice agenda. By employing a Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) framework and by introducing alluvial diagrams and circular dendrograms to BSS planning through a mixed-methods approach, this article illustrates an innovative tool in managing BSS in the context of the Global South. The strength of such diagrams has been underestimated to date since they can be particularly useful for public and private urban transport planners and policy-makers. Visualising user flows in such a manner, particularly in near-live time, may offer valuable insight on the operational challenges of BSS. Findings of the cross-sectional survey in Santiago de Chile confirm that maintenance is significant for user satisfaction levels. Furthermore, decisions regarding BSS expansion and modification could be based on such analysis and diagrams due to the precise identification of both the busiest and those under-represented BSS stations based on revealed preferences.
Policy Implications of Autonomous Vehicles, Volume Five in the Advances in Transport Policy and Planning series systematically reviews policy relevant implications of AVs and the associated possible policy responses, and discusses future avenues for policy making and research. It comprises 13 chapters discussing: (a) short-term implications of AVs for traffic flow, human-automated bus systems interaction, cyber-security and safety, cybersecurity certification and auditing, non-commuting journeys; (b) long-term implications of AVs for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and energy, health and well-being, data protection, ethics, governance; (c) implications of AVs for the maritime industry and urban deliveries; and (d) overall synthesis and conclusions.
Non-commuting journeys, which include social and recreational journeys, make up a substantial proportion of household travel and these journeys are mostly taken by car. Autonomous vehicle (AV) deployment has the potential to dramatically transform the way people work and travel, as well as reshape leisure travel patterns. Yet, the wider societal implications of AVs beyond commuting, such as travel for leisure and tourism, have received minimal academic attention. This state-of-the-art review follows PRISMA guidelines and addresses this gap through a qualitative synthesis of 48 articles that focuses on the influence of AV use on non-commuting journeys, including those for leisure, tourism, shopping and visiting friends and relatives. Key findings identified in this review include interest in AVs for leisure exceeding that for commuting, sharing being less likely when AVs are used for leisure, non-recognition that some non-commuting journeys will require a lower level of automation and that the spatial impacts of AVs for non-commuting journeys, like commuting journeys, are a
Certain developed countries have experienced the ‘peak car’ phenomenon. While this remains to be confirmed longitudinally, it looks certain that future mobility in Europe and elsewhere will be shaped by a particular technological development: driverless or autonomous transport. The ‘autonomous car’ ignites the imagination, yet the research and debate on this topic largely focus on the ‘autonomous’ and not adequately on the ‘car’ element. Like any new technological development, autonomous transport presents ample opportunities to better our mobility system, but similarly it carries risks and can lead into a future mobility that exacerbates, rather than relieves, current deficiencies of our mobility systems, including its high carbon and high cost characteristics. Now it is high time to explore these, before we lock ourselves into the autonomous car future. Using Low Carbon Mobility (LCM) as a guiding framework to assess mobility patterns and based on an extensive literature review, this paper aims to explore where there is a gap between the likely and desirable outcomes when developing the autonomous car and suggest how we might reduce it. Moreover, enhancing on global empirical evidence and forecasts about the opportunities and threats emerging from ICT deployment in transport and initial evidence on the development of the autonomous car, the paper concludes that a desirable outcome will only come if technological development will be accompanied by a social change. A change where public and sharing will be seen as superior to private and individual transport, could make the autonomous car a blessing.
The technology that allows fully automated driving already exists and it may gradually enter the market over the forthcoming decades. Technology assimilation and automated vehicle acceptance in different countries is of high interest to many scholars, manufacturers, and policymakers worldwide. We model the mode choice between automated vehicles and conventional cars using a mixed multinomial logit heteroskedastic error component type model. Specifically, we capture preference heterogeneity assuming a continuous distribution across individuals. Different choice scenarios, based on respondents’ reported trip, were presented to respondents from six European countries: Cyprus, Hungary, Iceland, Montenegro, Slovenia, and the UK. We found that large reservations towards automated vehicles exist in all countries with 70% conventional private car choices, and 30% automated vehicles choices. We found that men, under the age of 60, with a high income who currently use private car, are more likely to be early adopters of automated vehicles. We found significant differences in automated vehicles acceptance in different countries. Individuals from Slovenia and Cyprus show higher automated vehicles acceptance while individuals from wealthier countries, UK, and Iceland, show more reservations towards them. Nontrading mode choice behaviors, value of travel time, and differences in model parameters among the different countries are discussed.
This chapter reviews the different pathways which cities are following to become more accessible. By identifying the close link between transport and urban form based on global evidence, it highlights the direct and indirect costs of choices made. It then presents the tipping points which can allow to proceed from sprawling urban development and conventional motorised transport to more compact cities characterised by innovative mobility choices shaped around shared and public transport. The examples used are based on cities worldwide to illustrate emerging trends from both developed and developing countries. Therefore, the recommendations are valuable for a range of stakeholders including local and national policy makers, academics and vehicle manufacturers.
Autonomous vehicles are anticipated to play an important role on future mobility offering encouraging solutions to today’s transport problems. However, concerns of the public, which can affect the AVs’ uptake, are yet to be addressed. This study presents relevant findings of an online survey in eight European countries. First, 1639 responses were collected in Spring 2020 on people’s commute, preferred transport mode, willingness to use AVs and demographic details. Data was analyzed for the entire dataset and for vulnerable road users in particular. Results re-confirm the long-lasting discourse on the importance of safety on the acceptance of AVs. Spearman correlations show that age, gender, education level and number of household members have an impact on how people may be using or allowing their children to use the technology, e.g., with or without the presence of a human supervisor in the vehicle. Results on vulnerable road users show the same trend. The elderly would travel in AVs with the presence of a human supervisor. People with disabilities have the same proclivity, however their reactions were more conservative. Next to safety, reliability, affordability, cost, driving pleasure and household size may also impact the uptake of AVs and shall be considered when designing relevant policies.
In this paper two contemporary technological novelties are combined to introduce the concept of a blockchain-based MaaS, with the aim of pinpointing where and how business value can be created through data-based services of such a system. Towards this purpose, an integrated version of the Business Model Canvas is deployed, combining the advantages of the Lean Canvas and the Ethics Canvas. The overview of data flows among the versatile system stakeholders are outlined to highlight the potential benefits for diverse industries through sharing and collaboration.
Radical technological changes have occurred in the dawn of the twenty-first century, creating high expectations both for short-term and long-term evolutions in the use of information to improve trip accuracy and travel convenience within the transport sector. Information has become the global currency of this century and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) enables the distribution of information, facilitating both physical and digital accessibility. Coupled with increased mobility, the transport sector is constantly generating data through multiple devices, sensors and sources (Pelletier et al., 2011), an illustration of the unique feature of this era. Global mobile data traffic grew 81 per cent in 2013 and forecasts show that Africa and the Middle East are anticipated to grow – based on the compound annual growth rate – by 70 per cent whereas Central and Eastern Europe are anticipated to grow by 68 per cent (Cisco, 2014). So travellers and institutions have the ability to create value about themselves on their own, as members of organized communities or as part of the wider digital domain constantly producing or using data. It has been predicted that user-generated content and networking can act as democratizing forces in this context (Dutton, 2013).
‘Smart’ in policy terms refers largely to the increasing use and various ways of ICT to meet various objectives, ranging from social cohesion to economic growth and environmental sustainability. Yet it is debatable what smart is in policy terms and even when there is consensus that it is wise to act in a certain way, the outcome might prove otherwise. Similarly, smart policy in terms of promoting the use of ICT in the transport sector includes certain threats while at the same time offering valuable opportunities. Consequently, this concluding chapter aims to summarize the main findings of previous chapters in a table and to draw useful conclusions to foster collaboration between previously distant disciplines. One of the main conclusions of this book is that ICT in particular, and technology in general, form important policy tools to advance sustainable transport, amongst other objectives. However, such policy tools should not be seen as fixes to the sustainable problem but as part of an overall solution minimizing risks. It is only such approaches that can build on synergies and avoid contradictions in the rapidly evolving field of ICT for transport to advance sustainable transport.
Interest has re-emerged on the issue of how to incorporate equity considerations in the appraisal of transport projects and large road infrastructure projects in particular. This paper offers a way forward in addressing some of the theoretical and practical concerns that have presented difficulties to date in incorporating equity concerns in the appraisal of such projects. Initially an overview of current practice within transport regarding the appraisal of equity considerations in Europe is offered based on an extensive literature review. Acknowledging the value of a framework approach, research towards introducing a theoretical framework is then presented. The proposed framework is based on the well established MCA Analytic Hierarchy Process and is also contrasted with the use of a CBA based approach. The framework outlined here offers an additional support tool to decision makers who will be able to differentiate choices based on their views on specific equity principles and equity types. It also holds the potential to become a valuable tool for evaluators as a result of the option to assess predefined equity perspectives of decision makers against both the project objectives and the estimated project impacts. This framework may also be of further value to evaluators outside transport
Road user charging in urban areas and highways has been studied and implemented in several places worldwide. However, limited attention has been given so far to the impacts of a local road user charging scheme for rural or other protected areas, particularly in the UK. The focus of this paper is the road user charging scheme, which has been proposed for implementation in the Upper Derwent valley of the Peak District national park. By applying both quantitative and qualitative methods it is shown that such schemes share considerable differences compared to other urban or highway schemes, such as diverse objectives, trip purposes, visitors' value of time and dispersion of traffic in neighbouring areas. Nonetheless, management of a rural scheme, the evaluation method used, as well as equity issues appear to be equally significant as in other urban or highway schemes. The conclusion is that a road user charging scheme in the Upper Derwent valley could bring positive impacts by reducing high car usage at peak periods and creating additional revenue to serve essential improvements in the area, but is sensitive to the income and age of the visitors.
The state of the art in appraisal of transport infrastructure (particularly for developed countries) is moving towards inclusivity of a set of wider impacts than has traditionally been the case. In appraisal frameworks generally Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA), features as either an alternative to, or complementary with, Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) particularly when assessing a wider set of distributional and other impacts. In that respect it goes some way towards addressing an identified weakness in conventional CBA. This paper proposes a new method to incorporate the wider impacts into the appraisal framework (SUMINI) based upon a composite indicator and MCA. The method is illustrated for a particular example of the wider set of impacts, i. e. equity, through the ex-post assessment of two large EU transport infrastructure (TEN-T) case studies. The results suggest that SUMINI assesses equity impacts well and the case studies highlight the flexibility of the approach in reflecting different policy or project objectives. The research concludes that this method should not be viewed as being in competition with traditional CBA, but that it could be an easily adopted and complementary approach. The value in the research is in providing a new and significant methodological advance to the historically difficult question of how to evaluate equity and other wider impacts. The research is of strong international significance due to the publication of the TEN-Ts review by the European Commission, as well as the transnational nature of large scale interurban transport schemes, the involvement of national and transnational stakeholder groups in the approval and funding of those schemes, the large numbers of population potentially subject to equity and other wider impacts and the degree of variation in the regional objectives and priorities for transport decision makers.
ICTs are increasingly used in transport contexts for reasons of efficiency, cost-effectiveness and convenience. At the same time, such technologies enable increasingly comprehensive surveillance from the data gathered via devices and infrastructure. Marketing discourses around these applications highlight the benefits that such technologies have for the user and avoid mention of potential risks. This leaves users under- (and in some cases mis-) informed concerning the use of their data by third parties, which raises a number of ethical, social and legal concerns such as privacy and social profiling. Thus this chapter, drawing mainly upon medium theory, philosophy of technology, critical theory and surveillance studies, aims to contribute on a theoretical level to the debate concerning the balance between the positive contributions ICTs can make in the transport sector and the risks arising from the gathering of increasing amounts of personal data. It foregrounds the dual use of ICTs in transport contexts using up-to-date cases of applications and offers policy-relevant recommendations to inform the inclusion of ethical, social and legal issues in the design stage of ICTs for transport.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are rapidly evolving and taking centre stage in everyday life in the 21st century alongside the increasing importance and value of information. This is particularly evident in the transport sector where ICT is greatly influencing our mobility and travel choices as well as travel experiences. With this background, this book provides evidence regarding the opportunities, threats, underlying principles and practical issues faced when deploying ICT for transport applications. By focusing on infrastructure, people and processes, the contributors to this book illustrate the challenges for academics, practitioners and policy makers alike through diverse case studies from across the world. Â© Nikolas Thomopoulos, Moshe Givoni and Piet Rietveld 2015. All rights reserved.
An array of megatrends has been identified worldwide such as urbanisation, globalisation, population growth, ageing population and increasing social disparities (Hoppe et al., 2014). To address these at a global scale, the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all UN member states in 2015 identifying 17 sustainable development goals (UN, 2018a), where SDG11: Sustainable cities and communities has a prominent role. Thus, it becomes apparent that the urban dimension is at the core of those global objectives. This is undeniable since cities are increasingly the places where technological, behavioural and institutional transitions make a significant impact. Planning, managing and assessing urban projects are at the core of contemporary urban development. Within this context, mobility is one of the most influential factors.
Different types of high-rise residential buildings have proliferated in different countries at least since the 1940s, for a range of reasons. This paper aims to provide an overview of the current state of evidence on how planning, urban design and architectural aspects of high-rise residential buildings may influence social well-being and mental health. A systematic review following the PRISMA guidelines was conducted. Searches for peer-reviewed papers were conducted in MEDLINE, Embase, PsycInfo, Scopus, SciELO, and Web of Science; 4100 papers were assessed. 23 empirical studies published between 1971 and 2016 were included. The review found that house type, floor level, as well as spaces intrinsic to high-rise residential buildings (e.g. shared stairwells) are associated with social well-being and mental health. However, conceptual gaps and methodological inconsistencies still characterise most of the research in this field. We expect that research about and policy attention to this subject may intensify due to its strategic relevance in the face of global challenges such as increasing urbanization and loneliness. This paper concludes by highlighting a number of recommendations for future research.
It is natural for most transport geographers to get intrigued by the title of this book: Automated and Autonomous Mobilities. Given the significant rise of the use of the term autonomous vehicles (AV) among academics and practitioners, Kellerman manages to attract attention about a contemporary issue. Increasing funding directed towards automated and autonomous mobility over the past decade is proof of the contemporary nature of this book. Additionally, the book fits perfectly well within the respective book series i.e. Transport, Mobilities and Spatial Change published by TGRG of RGS-IBG.