Dr Marie Russell

Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington


Current research: Drivers of urban change, part of the Resilient Urban Futures research programme

Public transport and how passengers use their travel time on buses and trains were the focus of my PhD thesis, completed in 2012 in the Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Behind my research was a query about whether the current valuation of travel time savings – the key component in transport cost-benefit analysis – truly reflects passengers’ realities. The economic assumption is that travel time is wasted time. Using observations, interviews and a survey, I found most passengers made some use or good use of their travel time and did not consider it wasted. Waiting time was more problematic for some. Access the full thesis.

Other research interests include tobacco policy, social research methodology, and children’s issues.

My academic background includes English literature, Library Studies and Public Health. I also took the MA (Applied) in Social Science Research from Victoria University of Wellington. I worked as a Research Fellow at Victoria University’s Health Services Research Centre from 1999 and then at University of Otago, Wellington from 2008.

I have also worked as a mother at home and an independent documentary producer for Radio New Zealand. More recently I have begun making documentary films. My first effort was completed in 2009: ‘A place to stay’ is a 36-minute film which explores the relation between urban design and a sense of community, through the unusual social history of Salisbury Garden Court in Wellington.


Local councils and public consultation: Extending the reach of democracyPolicy Quarterly, 12, 4, November 2016
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Drivers of urban changeSteele Roberts, Wellington, 2015
How real is a reported desire to travel for its own sake? Exploring the ‘teleportation’ concept in travel behaviour researchTransportation, 2014:1-13
Informing outdoor smokefree policy: Methods for measuring the proportion of people smoking in outdoor public areasHealth & Place, 20, 03/2013
Travel time use on public transport: What passengers do and how it affects their wellbeingThesis, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Otago, 2012
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Health and nuisance impacts from outdoor smoking on public transport users: Data from Auckland and WellingtonThe New Zealand Medical Journal, 08/2012, 125:1360
What do passengers do during travel time? Structured observations on buses and trainsJournal of Public Transportation, 14:3, 2011
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Convivial public transport: Six theories about travel time and social wellbeingIn Howden-Chapman P, Stuart K, Chapman R (eds), Sizing up the city: Urban form and transport in New Zealand, Wellington: Steele Roberts, 2010
Abusive and inappropriate sexual behaviour among Years 7 & 8 students: A survey of teachersResearch Information for Teachers, 2009: no.1.
Just who do we think children are? New Zealanders' attitudes about children, childhood and parentingAn analysis of submissions on the Bill to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961. Social Policy Journal of New Zealand 34, April 2009: 100-112.
The road we travel: Māori experience of cancerNew Zealand Medical Journal 121(1279), 8 August 2008