Motorway with cars, adjacent to a passenger train

Transport engineering

Multimodal, multidisciplinary, human-centred engineering research
We’re at the forefront of multidisciplinary research, advancing fundamental knowledge and engineering practice through transport science, engineering, and policy approaches to create efficient and equitable transport systems.

Transport is central to economic activity and to our lives; it enables us to engage in work, attend school, shop for food and other goods, receive deliveries and participate in everyday activities.

Transport questions require design thinking beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. Infrastructure is traditionally associated with civil engineering, whereas vehicles are anchored in mechanical engineering and services in the domain of business. These domains come together to address big problems like congestion, pollution, safety and accessibility.

Our research

The strength of our research into transport lies in its multidisciplinary approach: the ability to scientifically tackle socio-technical problems with a large and growing toolbox of methods and perspectives. 

Our key research areas are:

System impacts of autonomous vehicles

The emergence of autonomous vehicles has wide-ranging impacts on the transport system. We’re looking at performance dependencies in the transport system as these technologies reach saturation. 

Our experts: Professor David Levinson, Dr Mohsen Ramazani, Professor Michael Bell

Our partners: Professor Kay Axhausen, ETH Zurich,  Professor Hai Yang, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)

The emergence of autonomous vehicles has wide-ranging impacts on the transport system. This research develops and designs incentives, auctions and behavioural and pricing rules to manipulate micro traffic dynamics such as lane- changing, merging, energy-efficient driving, and driving at intersections, in roads without defined lanes and shared spaces to achieve collective macro benefits.

The project targets mixed traffic where AVs and conventional human-driven vehicles interact and share the road. Our researchers are looking at performance dependencies in the transport system as these technologies mature.

Our experts: Dr Andres Fiealbaum

Automation and on-demand operations can play a relevant role to enhance the quality of public transport services and make them more cost-efficient. We study the best ways to utilise on-demand automated vehicles to complement traditional fixed routes, how to rebuild the fixed routes network, and how the automation of buses can lead to higher frequencies and more reliable services.

Our experts: Dr Mohsen Ramezani

The transport sector is responsible for around 20% of GHG emissions in Australia, with road transport responsible for almost two thirds of total emissions. Australia is expecting an increase in the number of EVs by up to 1.7 million by 2035, with 75% of them to be charged at residential properties. The federal and state governments have also set targets for public transport electrification. Considering end energy users' heterogeneous and stochastic behavior, transport electrification is expected to put the grid under significant pressure if not managed.

This research aims at designing models, smart algorithms, and intelligent management of EV charging demand to facilitate the transition towards net zero transport systems.

Transport system performance measures

Increasing availability of data and a refocusing on the customer have led to new approaches to transport system performance measurement. We leverage new data sources and econometric approaches to benchmark status quo performance and model interventions. 

Our experts: Dr Emily Moylan, Professor John Nelson

Our partners: Tingsen (Tim) Xian, Teck Kean Chin

Bus priority measures such as bus lanes and priority signaling support the improvement of bus performance. Although bus performance has important implications for operators and customers, its evaluation has been sparse.

More recently, GTFR-realtime data allows for microscopic evaluation of on-time running, schedule adherence, boarding delay or rolling speed. This research uses years of detailed data about Sydney's bus system to assess performance, evaluate the effectiveness of priority measures and propose design interventions.

Our experts: Dr Andres Fielbaum

Passengers travelling in on-demand shared mobility face new difficulties in predicting their travelling times, as they depend on circumstantial co-travellers, which might change every day and also update while trips are taking place. This project consists of measuring how relevant these problems are for the users, and developing new algorithms to reduce this source of uncertainty.

Traffic operations and control

Traffic operations are essential for managing congestion and supporting economic productivity. Building on control theory, traffic flow theory and empirical approaches, we contribute to theoretical and practical traffic operations.

Our experts: Dr Mohsen Ramezani

Traffic signal control policies are nominally designed for isolated intersection control or coordinated control in arterials. To improve traffic operation efficiency in large-scale urban networks, control policies must think more holistically about network behaviour. A recent approach to extend the spatial extent of traffic signal control to the network level is perimeter flow control based on the Macroscopic Fundamental Diagram (MFD) model.

This project advances that work in three directions: Perimeter Flow Control with Time-varying Cordon based on MFD, Day-to-day Dynamics in Perimeter Flow Control Scheme based on MFD, and Subregional Time-dependent Congestion Pricing Strategy of Large-scale Networks. The project outcome is flexible and effective control strategies to cope with large, uncertain, irregular traffic networks.

Our experts: Dr Emily Moylan, Professor David Levinson, Dr Mark Dennis

Our partners: Changle Song

Ambulances deliver time-critical goods and services within the medical system. Optimal planning and operations decisions can be informed by various well-established logistics optimisations such as facility location problems, vehicle routing problems, scheduling and dispatch problems. This research uses logistics optimisation, accessibility measures and collaboration with medical experts to quantify potential improvements in the system.

Our experts: Dr Mohsen Ramezani, Dr Andres Fielbaum

The transport sector is being deeply transformed with the emergence of the sharing economy and the online coordination between different parties, such as shared bicycles and on-demand ridepooling. In this research, we study the optimal ways to operate and manage these systems, including aspects such as routing, pricing, rebalancing, or charging.

Transport and land use

Transport and land use systems are connected through the concept of accessibility, with transport networks providing access to activities. We use econometrics, spatial analytics, and complex systems to study this connection.

Our experts: Dr Emily Moylan, Dr Jennifer Kent, Professor David Levinson, Professor Stephen Greaves

Our partners: Laya Hossein Rashidi

Travellers' decisions to opt for low-carbon modes such as walking and biking, transit and electric vehicles are enabled by built environments that enhance those choices. This research brings together rich spatial information about the built environment, discrete choice analysis and accessibility measures to understand the land use policies that support an inclusive transition to net-zero travel.