Tweeting transport: Examining the use of Twitter in transport events

Caitlin D Cottrill, Godwin Yeboah, Paul Gault, John D. Nelson, Jillian Anable, Tom Budd

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


This paper describes work undertaken to evaluate how a social media platform (in this case Twitter) was used over the course of the 2014 Commonwealth Games hosted in Glasgow, Scotland to provide and share transport-related information, and respond to information requests. Previous studies have identified factors of interest in evaluating the use of social media in various contexts, including social ties and trust, information seeking behaviours, and the possibility of using social media data as predictors of mobility behaviours. These studies incorporate elements of behavioural psychology in relation to the practical use of social media – how different types of people use social media for different purposes and what can be ascertained from this use. In this study, we provide a more holistic approach to the evaluation of social media, incorporating contextual characteristics of users, patterns of use, and practical applications of the findings as applied in a transport context. In this paper we focus on methods of evaluation as a stage-setting exercise for further analysis. Over the course of the Games (23rd June to 3rd August 2014), roughly 9 million tweets were collected by a purpose-built monitoring infrastructure using a combination of transport-related keywords, hashtags, and account holders (for example, @GamesTravel2014). In our analysis, we focus, in particular, upon the following aspects of a selected subset of this data: ‘Retweets’ (or original tweets that are shared by other users): o Types of users retweeting information o Types of information in retweets By assessing these factors and adopting ‘retweets’ and ‘messages to’ as markers of the utility and perceived reliability of the information posted, we hope to evaluate both how transport information disseminates through a network, and how this may reflect issues of trust and reliability by different actors for different transport-related purposes. Keywords: social media, transport disruptions, large events

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
EventUniversity Transport Study Group (UTSG) 47th Annual Conference, January 2015 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Jan 20157 Jan 2015


ConferenceUniversity Transport Study Group (UTSG) 47th Annual Conference, January 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Bibliographical note

This work is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/M001628/1]. We also wish to acknowledge and thank the dot.rural Hub team members who designed and developed the TMI – namely, David Corsar, Mujtaba Mehdi, and Charles Ofoegbu.
The work also acknowledges Twitter Copyrights and individual Tweets from the platform.


  • social media
  • transport disruptions
  • large events


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