Professor David Hensher is an expert in travel behaviour – he analyses and models the choices consumers make around travel to inform policy around transport and infrastructure. It’s an area that has been completely disrupted by the effects of the coronavirus and early last year he began to think about potential issues arising from lockdowns and the shift to working from home. Before long he had multiple stakeholders from industry and government backing a two-year research project with huge implications for infrastructure in our cities and suburbs.
“Government focus on jobs and infrastructure is really, really important, but we must make sure we build the right infrastructure, not just spend money for the sake of it to create jobs,” he says.
David’s recent research suggests that people are now working from home more and commuting less, typically on average 2 days per week. David anticipates the impact of this behaviour on our transport infrastructure over the longer term is paramount, “It's going to blow the evaluations out of the box inside of how you prioritise infrastructure.”
David considers himself an entrepreneurial academic and says engagement is key to his research work and the focus of the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS). This approach is why, he says, the ITLS is ranked sixth in the world and first in its field in Australia.
“I've always felt that what's really important for any university in making a difference in society is to have a mixed portfolio of activities. In other words, to be relevant, you need to really make sure that you do high quality research, but it must be informed by the big agendas that government and industry are interested in for it to be effective."
At Transport for NSW we are proud of the close working relationship we’ve shared with ITLS for many years, and - as we work to make NSW a better place to live, work and visit - the role the Institute plays in informing our future transport landscape has never been more important.