News and Events

  • Smart phone app to support the public transport revolution
    24 Mar 2014

    Researchers at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) are developing a smart phone app aimed at taking the frustration out of travelling on public transport and ultimately improving bus and train services.

    Researchers at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) are developing a smart phone app aimed at taking the frustration out of travelling on public transport and ultimately improving bus and train services.

    The app, known as RateIT, will allow passengers to warn each other of problems in real time, and operators to adjust services in order to overcome difficulties and to meet varying passenger requirements.

    "RateIT will allow passengers to exchange information about issues such as crowding, comfort and safety," said Dr Claudine Moutou. "Through the app, travellers can warn each other that a particular bus is full, there are rowdy students on board or the air conditioning has failed."

    "Importantly, transport operators will be linked into the system and will be able respond to passenger needs in real time," added Dr Moutou who is a lecturer in the University of Sydney Business School's ITLS.

    "For example, using information supplied by passengers via RateIT, a bus operator can respond to delays on the rail network, gauge the need for additional services and inform travellers accordingly," she said. "It's a win for the operators and it's a win for passengers."

    The researchers say that their project is crucial in an environment where public transport operators are under pressure to provide better services to more people for less money.

    "To make public transport a traveller's first choice, we need to know much more about the experience from their point of view," said Dr Moutou. "Data collected in the RateIT app will help us to answer important questions about passenger expectations and how long they will tolerate a less than perfect service."

    The development of the app is being supported by the University of Sydney's Henry Halloran Trust, which was established to "promote scholarship, innovation and research in town planning, urban development and land management". The Trust was established through the generous gift of Warren Halloran.

    Professors Judy Kay and Robert Kummerfeld, both experts in computer-human interaction in the School of Information Technologies, will also be working on the app together with a number of IT students.

    They expect to trial RateIT towards the end of the year on buses belonging to the well established Sydney based operator, Forest Coach Lines.

    "Our project combines research, technology and operational knowledge in an effort to get communities more engaged in the quality of their transport services and tell us how to make them better," concluded Dr Moutou.


  • Australians support road usage charges over fixed rego fee - latest Transport Opinion Survey results released
    19 Mar 2014

    Most Australians would prefer to pay a per kilometre road charge in exchange for lower annual vehicle registration fees, according to the latest Transport Opinion Survey (TOPS) conducted by the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies.

    Around 60 per cent of participants in the nationwide biannual survey were in favour of a combination of road usage and registration charges so long as the total was no more than they currently pay for registration alone.

    The strongest support for a change came from Queensland motorists (67 per cent) and the lowest from those in Victoria (57 per cent).

    "This shows an appetite for change and is a signal that government should take seriously," says Professor Corinne Mulley, the ITLS Chair in Public Transport.

    When also asked how they would like to see any increase in registration fees spent, about 50 per cent of participants nominated improved roads while around 25 per cent said they would like to see rail services upgraded.

    However, while half of all participants expressed a desire for improved roads, they also nominated public transport improvements as the highest priority transport issue for Australia.

    "It is clear that voters find transport issues important," said Professor Mulley. "Even when given the choice of spending additional revenue on non-transport activities, 90% or more chose a transport spend."

    Overall, the latest TOPS survey found that Australians are less confident about the prospects for improved local transport than they were in the previous survey. Those surveyed also doubted that transport across Australia will be better in one and five years than it is now.

    "This is the first drop in community confidence since 2012 and the TOPS index is now at its lowest value since the survey started," Professor Mulley said. "Public transport improvements are top of the list of transport issues and this is not surprising since public transport is critical to well functioning cities."

    "Changing the registration scheme to generate funds for public transport looks like a way forward and one that voters would support," Professor Mulley concluded.

    TOPS is the only national survey to measure public opinion on transport related issues. The first 2014 report (and all previous reports) may be read at: http://sydney.edu.au/business/itls/tops



  • Dr Andrew Collins awarded prestigious international Eric Pas Dissertation Prize, Dr Matthew Beck receives honourable mention
    14 Jan 2014

    Andrew Collins
    Andrew Collins
    Matt Beck
    Matthew Beck

    Dr Andrew Collins (now ITLS Lecturer in Transport and Logistics Management) has been awarded the prestigious 2013 Eric Pas Dissertation Prize for his doctoral thesis "Attribute nonattendance in discrete choice models: measurement of bias, and a model for the inference of both nonattendance and taste heterogeneity"; his PhD was supervised by Professor David Hensher and Professor John Rose. The award recognizes the best doctoral dissertation internationally in the area of travel behaviour research submitted in 2013. This is a prestigious award in the field and is highly competitive. The award was formally announced at the International Association of Traveller Behaviour Research (IATBR) meeting at the 93rd Annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) Meeting, held 12-16 January 2014 in Washington DC. Dr Matthew Beck (now ITLS Senior Lecturer in Infrastructure Management) received honourable mention for his doctoral thesis "Development of a behavioural system of stated choice models: modelling behavioural, pricing and technological opportunities to reduce automobile energy levels"; his PhD was supervised by Professor John Rose and Professor David Hensher.

    Other past and present staff and affiliates of ITLS to receive the prize / honourable mention include: Sean Puckett "Economic Behaviour of Interdependent Road Freight Stakeholders Under Variable Road User Charges: Advanced Stated Choice Analysis"; Stephane Hess "Advanced Discrete Choice Models with Applications to Transport Demand"; and Michiel Bliemer "Analytical Dynamic Traffic Assignment with Interacting User-Classes".

    The IATBR is an international organization of scholars, researchers, practitioners, consultants, and public agency professionals dedicated to the advancement of travel behaviour research.The association meets annually in January at the TRB Meeting in Washington, D.C. The TRB Annual Meeting program covers all transportation modes, with more than 4,500 presentations in nearly 800 sessions and workshops addressing topics of interest to all attendees - policy makers, administrators, practitioners, researchers, and representatives of government, industry, and academic institutions. The theme for the 2014 TRB Annual Meeting was Celebrating Our Legacy, Anticipating Our Future. A number of ITLS academics travelled to the 93rd Annual Meeting to present papers.

    Eric Pas (1948-1997) was among those who laid the foundations for, and contributed substantially toward, advanced research topics in the activity-based modeling approach to travel demand analysis. He strived to integrate developments in the social sciences, such as those in time use research, sociology, psychology and micro-economic theory, with transportation behavior analysis. He took it upon himself to assess and reflect, on a periodic basis, the developments in the field of travel behavior and time-use analysis. In doing so, he focused on how recent developments fit within the larger framework of human activity behavior and, sometimes, questioned in a constructive manner some of the directions of the current research. His periodic reflections became synonymous with wafts of refreshing intellectual breeze, providing new directions for research and spurring more creative work in the field.