News and Events
Short courses at ITLS, July 2013: "Certificate in railway planning and operations" and "Collecting, managing and assessing data using sample surveys"
11 Jul 2013
Collecting, managing, and assessing data using sample surveys will be held from Monday 15 to Friday 19 July 2013. This short course, presented by Professor Peter Stopher a world leader in survey design, will introduce participants to the concepts of designing and implementing data collection procedures, particularly through surveys of human populations. The course is applicable to a wide range of surveys involving human subjects and is not limited to any specific discipline area. Issues that pertain to health surveys, physical activities, behaviour surveys of various types, agricultural surveys, etc. are covered. The course introduces simple sample designs, and covers the design of data-collection instruments, protocols for undertaking surveys of human populations, pilot surveys and pre-tests, survey ethics, survey administration, coding and archiving of data, computation of sampling errors and population statistics, response rates and other measures of survey quality, and validation of survey data. The course also includes discussion of applications of advanced technology to surveys, such as Internet surveys, surveys using GPS devices, and other remote sensing techniques. The course is based on the book Collecting, Managing, and Assessing Data Using Sample Surveys by Professor Peter Stopher, published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. The class sessions include a number of worked examples for the statistical calculations, as well as examples of good and bad survey designs, to illustrate the various points made in the class.
The Certificate of Railway Planning and Operations, to be held on Thursday 11, Friday 12 and Monday 15 July 2013, is a professional development course for staff in the railway industry including policy-makers, operators, suppliers and consultants. It is designed to provide knowledge and skills in planning, policy and management areas that are central to the success of this industry. There has been increasing interest in railways in recent years as a transport solution for both passengers and freight, and rail's modal share has been rising in many key markets. Problems of inadequate capacity and financial self-sufficiency are arising, and these problems require a good understanding of what solutions are available and why and where these solutions might be appropriate. The Certificate of Railway Planning and Operations is an important industry qualification for middle and senior management and is an excellent opportunity for career development. The three day program examines concepts relevant to railway management, economics and planning and explains how these are applied in practical situations. The course content is reinforced by three assignments completed as part of the course requirements. The course is presented by Dr Nigel Harris. Nigel is amongst Britain's leading railway planners, with a reputation based initially on technical advances in fares policy research (at Newcastle University) and network modelling (during eight years at London Underground). In addition, he has expertise in service planning, operational simulation, demand forecasting, scheme appraisal and railway business planning, making him a leader in the field of practical railway economics. Since 1995, he has managed The Railway Consultancy, and has undertaken projects on every continent except Antarctica. He has co-authored/edited key texts on 'The Privatisation of British Rail' and on both Planning Passenger Railways and Planning Freight Railways, as well as having published over 50 other papers.
Professor David Hensher, Director of ITLS, to give BRT Centre of Excellence webinar
24 May 2013
The Across Latitudes and Cultures BRT Centre of Excellence, in which ITLS is a partner, holds a monthly webinar series to share timely public transit research and encourage ongoing collaboration. The series is open to anyone and addresses issues relevant to researchers and practitioners. Professor Hensher will give the next webinar on Cost efficiency under negotiated performance-based contracts and benchmarking - are there gains through competitive tendering in the absence of an incumbent public monopolist? on Friday 24th May at 4pm (Sydney, Australia time (UTC+10)), a summary for the presentation is provided below.
A lot is happening in bus contracting in Australia. Metropolitan Sydney has moved, unexpectedly, in late 2012 from negotiated performance based contracts (NPBCs) with some exceptions, to competitive tendering (CT); tendered contracts in Adelaide are showing serious signs of patronage decline and media criticism, and bus services in the central areas of Melbourne are going through a consolidation of contracts into one competitively tendered contract and away from the current NPBC. Perth remains committed to CT whilst Brisbane is staying at present with NPBCs. This paper uses data obtained from numerous official and unofficial sources to assess the extent to which a NPBC with actionable benchmarking can achieve as good as, or better, improvement in cost efficiency (without the potential risk of service loss attributable to repeated rounds of CT) when incumbents are not public operators. Using data that enables us to link CT bid prices of successful bids to NPBC outcomes if benchmarking is actioned, and normalising the data to enable meaningful comparisons, the evidence suggests that financial gains from CT (unless an incumbent public operator is present) are either negligible or absent; indeed the effect of such a procurement model is tending towards a neutral financial outcome. Stakeholders who promote the position that Government should choose to test the market for value for money through CT, especially where incumbent operators demonstrate benchmarked cost efficiency, given the primary responsibility to the taxpayer, appear to be inappropriately claiming noticeable benefits to society.
Let the debate begin: ITLS to host a forum on 'High speed rail for Australia - Is it value for money?' - Wednesday 22 May
22 May 2013
High speed rail for Australia - Is it value for money?
Wednesday 22 May 2013 9.30am-1.30pm
Assembly Hall, Level 4, St James Campus, The University of Sydney, 173-175 Phillip Street, Sydney CBD
A high speed rail link connecting the large centres of Australia's east coast is an exciting but costly undertaking. With Sydney-Melbourne being the fifth busiest air route in the world and Sydney-Brisbane not far behind there would appear to be sufficient demand and a high speed rail link would be competitive in providing a journey time of under three hours between Sydney CBD and Melbourne CBD.
However, as Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has commented recently, a high speed rail link would necessitate significant tunnelling (particularly around Sydney) and would be very costly. This view is supported by a number of high level studies. In response to the most recent study, Mr Albanese said that HSR in Australia would be an exciting but ''monumental endeavour'' and that, given the large capital cost and impacts to communities involved, a national debate is urgently required. He continued by saying "Let the debate begin." Well, this is what this forum is all about. The crucial questions addressed in this special event, as part of the ITLS Leadership and Policy Seminar Series, are where the large upfront investment for a high speed link would come from and whether the proposed HSR link is indeed value for money.
Professor David Hensher, Director and Dr Rico Merkert, Senior Lecturer, ITLS-Sydney
The real impact of high speed rail - evidence from a European perspective
Peter Koning, Chairman of the CILTA NSW Section and Peter Humphreys, Vice President of Global Transit, AECOM
Building the backbone of the nation - the Japanese HSR experience
Gen Okajima, General Manager, Central Japan Railway Company, Sydney Office
Investment in growth
The Hon John Alexander MP, OAM, Federal MP for Bennelong
Assessing the employment agglomeration and social accessibility impacts of HSR in the Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne corridor
Professor David Hensher, Director, ITLS-Sydney
12pm Round table panel discussion 12.30pm Lunch
Places are limited for this special event so please book early to avoid disappointment. This is a catered event so please include any special dietary requirements with your RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
ITLS researchers win funding to present their research at conferences in Brazil, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States
06 May 2013
ITLS congratulates its academics on winning funding to present their research at conferences around the world. Professor Corinne Mulley, Chair in Public Transport, will present her papers Hypothecation and the parking levy: lessons from Sydney and Nottingham (co-author Stephen Ison) and Effects of bus rapid transit on housing price: evidence from Sydney, Australia (with Chi-hong (Patrick) Tsai) at the 13th World Conference on Transport Research in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in July 2013. Professor Michael Bell will present his paper Dynamic user equilibrium in public transport networks with passenger congestion and hyperpaths (co-authors Valentina Trozzi, Guido Gentile and Ioannis Kaparias) at the 20th International Symposium on Transportation and Traffic Theory in Noordwijk, The Netherlands in July 2013. ITLS Director, Professor David Hensher, will give his paper Cost efficiency under negotiated performance-based contracts and benchmarking for urban bus contracts - are there any gains through competitive tendering in the absence of an incumbent public monopolist? as a keynote presentation at the 13th International Conference on Competition and Ownership in Land Passenger Transport (Thredbo 13) in Oxford, United Kingdom in September 2013 where he will also deliver his paper Drivers of bus rapid transit systems - influences on ridership and service frequency (co-authors Corinne Mulley and Zheng Li). Dr Geoffrey Clifton will also present papers at Thredbo 13 - Bus rapid transit versus heavy rail in suburban Sydney - comparing successive iterations of a proposed heavy rail line project to the pre-existing BRT network and A comparison of recent bus tenders (both co-authored with Corinne Mulley and David Hensher). A number of our academics won funding for papers they had presented at the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board - "Deploying Transportation Research - Doing Things Smarter, Better, Faster" - held in Washington DC, United States in January 2013: Dr Matthew Beck presented his paper Random regret and random utility in the household purchase of a motor vehicle (co-authors Caspar Chorus, John Rose and David Hensher) and Dr Rico Merkert presented his papers Explanatory power of different data envelopment analysis models for detennining airports' cost efficiency (co-author Luca Mangia) and Low-cost airlines-within-airlines: business model moving east (co-author James Pearson).
Peak hour congestion a matter of choice for many drivers - latest results from the ITLS Transport Opinion Survey (TOPS)
02 May 2013
At least one in three drivers who commute to work during peak periods in most major cities do not need to do so and could significantly reduce traffic congestion by simply choosing a different time to travel. In Sydney, Australia's largest and most congested city, the number of peak hour drivers who said they could leave home at a different time in order to avoid traffic congestion was one in four.
The quarterly Transport Opinion Survey (TOPS) was conducted by the University of Sydney Business School's Institute of Transport and Logistic Studies (ITLS).
It found that a peak period (7.00 AM to 9.00 AM and 4.30 PM to 6.30 PM) charge of around five cents per kilometre on major roads could encourage up to 35 per cent of people who commute by car to travel at a different time or shift to public transport.
"We are often told that commuters have no flexibility in the time that they travel and yet these findings suggest otherwise", said ITLS Director, Professor David Hensher. "A fall of about six per cent of peak hour trips would make a significant difference to our current levels of congestion."
The survey indicated that peak hour road pricing could encourage around 13 per cent of commuters to shift to public transport and 22 per cent to drive to work during an off peak period.
"This suggests that there is scope to reduce traffic congestion through road pricing while not impacting on work choices", Professor Hensher said. "As we search for ways to reduce congestion on our roads during peak travelling times, these findings are very encouraging."
TOPS also looked at attitudes towards transport and found that Australians are now less confident about the prospects of improvement in local transport than they were when first surveyed in March 2010.
However, Australians are slightly more confident than they were at the time of the last TOPS in September last year.
The latest survey also found that 53 percent of Australians saw public transport improvements as the highest priority.
TOPS is the only national survey to measure public opinion on transport related issues.
The full March 2013 quarterly report (and all previous reports) may be found at: http://sydney.edu.au/business/itls/tops.
Director of ITLS, Professor David Hensher, gives keynote presentation at BusNSW Management Conference on a new KPI program for bus contracting
27 Apr 2013
Director of ITLS, Professor David Hensher, gives keynote presentation at BusNSW Management Conference in Manly, Sydney on negotiation and effective actionable benchmarking in bus contracting. Professor Hensher outlined a KPI program that is measurable, comparable and, if adopted, will demonstrate performance.
ITLS HDR students Adrian and Richard Ellison receive the Dean's Citation for Tutoring
15 Apr 2013
ITLS congratulates Adrian and Richard Ellison on receiving the Dean's citation for tutoring for their work on TPTM6180 Geographical Information Systems. Students praised both Adrian and Richard stating, "My tutor respected each student and responded to individual needs", "My tutor maintained a classroom atmosphere conducive to learning", and "Overall my tutor effectively supported my learning".
Positive feedback for Retail Logistics course at Shanghai Jia Tong University
07 Apr 2013
Enrolment numbers were up for the second iteration of the Retail Logistics course taught in the Modern Logistics and Supply Chain Management EMBA Study Course at the Overseas Education College, Shanghai Jia Tong University, by Gareth Jude, and the course received very positive feedback.
Associate Professor Stephen Greaves and Honorary Associate Professor Peter Lok receive Dean's Citations for Teaching
28 Mar 2013
ITLS congratulates Associate Professor Stephen Greaves on receiving a Dean's Citation for Teaching for his unit of study 'Geographical Information Systems' (TPTM6180) and Honorary Associate Professor Peter Lok for receiving a Dean's Citation for Teaching for his unit of study 'International Logistics' (TPTM6260). Both citations were awarded for teaching in Semester 2, 2012. ITLS' Dr Geoffrey Clifton (Transport Modes and Systems (TPTM6241)), Alan Win and Jeffrey Newton (Logistics and Supply Chain Management (TPTM5001)) previously received citations for teaching in Semester 1, 2012. The Dean's Citation for Teaching is awarded to unit of study coordinators / teaching teams on the basis of Unit of Study Evaluation (USE) feedback which provides evaluative data on the overall quality of the teaching in the Unit of Study as perceived by our students.
Professor Corinne Mulley, NSW Chair in Public Transport, to work on ACT government project on community transport services
21 Mar 2013
The ACT Government is reviewing community transport services in the ACT. The objectives are to consider the future potential of community transport in the Territory as it faces significant changes to its funding regime and major changes in the level and nature of demand for its services. The scope of the project includes examining the potential of a mobility management approach to the delivery and coordination of community and flexible transport services. $150k has been awarded to Transport Planning and Management for this investigation by a team that includes Professor Corinne Mulley, NSW Chair in Public Transport.
Latest edition of Bus Buzz Newsletter now available
19 Mar 2013
Bus Buzz is the quarterly newsletter from the public transport team at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies.
Launch of Moving Australia 2030
13 Mar 2013
The report Moving Australia 2030: A Transport Plan for a Productive and Active Australia was launched by The Hon. Anthony Albanese, MP, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure on 13 March 2013 at a Bus Industry Confederation dinner in Canberra. The report was the work of a task force formed and hosted by the Bus Industry Confederation with members from: The Australian Local Government Association; The Australasian Railway Association; Cycling Promotion Fund; Heart Foundation; Planning Institute of Australia; The Tourism and Transport Forum, and the International Association of Public Transport. The report was reviewed before publication by ITLS' Professor John Stanley, Bus Industry Confederation Senior Fellow in Sustainable Land Transport, who was an author of the reports Moving People - Solutions for a Growing Australia (2008) and Moving People: Solutions for a Liveable Australia (2012) on which Moving Australia 2030 builds.
The report sets out four tangible targets, that by 2030:
1. public transport, walking and cycling will account for 30 per cent, or more, of all passenger trips in our capital cities;
2. that carbon emissions from the passenger road transport sector be at least 50 per cent below 2000 levels;
3. that fuel consumed by the road transport sector be 30 per cent less than currently forecasted; and
4. that there be a variety of transport modes convenient and accessible to all Australians.
Anthony Albanese described the report as "essential reading for all those who are committed to and responsible for providing sustainable transport solutions for this nation".
Professor Corinne Mulley, NSW Chair in Public Transport, gives plenary at Sydney's Rail Future Conference
28 Feb 2013
The Sydney's Rail Future Conference featured presentations by key stakeholders involved with developing and taking forward infrastructure planning and development. Professor Corinne Mulley's presentation on How can we encourage public transport use and alleviate Sydney's congestion problem? considered:
- Almost 70% of journeys in Sydney are by car - how can we get people out of their cars and onto public transport?
- What can greater use of public transport promote?
- Strategic network planning that encourages public transport use
- Sticks and carrots in promoting public transport use - how important is road pricing reform?
- How might this work in the context of a transport plan promises to deliver motorways and road developments?
Dr Rico Merkert appointed to Transportation Research Board's Standing Committee on Light Commercial and General Aviation
27 Feb 2013
Dr Rico Merkert, Senior Lecturer in Aviation Management, has been appointed as a member of the Transportation Research Board's (TRB) Standing Committee on Light Commercial and General Aviation (AV080). The Transportation Research Board is a division of the USA's National Research Council (NRC), a private, nonprofit institution that provides expertise in science and technology to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The NRC is jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This committee considers publicly and privately supported research and public policy as applied to the light-aircraft component of commercial aviation, consisting of short-haul operations commonly known as regional and/or commuters, and all aspects of general aviation--including fixed- and rotary-wing and other vertical lift vehicles powered by turbofan, turboprop, turboshaft or piston engines. Committee activities are centered on the various aspects of demand forecasting (recognizing the impact of technology advancements and other structural changes affecting the industry), fleet growth and utilization, economics and financing, operations and maintenance, safety, facilities and equipment and development, and agencies, users, and user associations, and equipment manufacturers.
Director of ITLS meets with representatives from Myanmar's Yangon Institute of Economics on world best practice in creating and sustaining a university transport institute
13 Feb 2013
Professor David Hensher, Director of ITLS, was invited to talk to Professor Thida and Dr Tha from Myanmar's Yangon Institute of Economics about the world's best practice in creating and sustaining a university transport institute. This was part of a joint activity on capacity building for Myanmar organised by the University of NSW (Professor John Black, Emeritus Professor of Transport Engineering, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering), Austrade and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (Dr Fauziah Zen, Researcher and Delia Arinda).
Professor Corinne Mulley, NSW Chair in Public Transport, presents at the Integrating Health, Active Transport and Land Use Planning Forum at NSW Parliament House
07 Feb 2013
The Integrating Health, Active Transport and Land Use Planning Forum as organised by the Premier's Council for Active Living. The objectives of the forum were: to promote greater understanding of research evidence and key international resources linking health, active transport and land-use planning; examine current NSW interagency initiatives promoting increased active living and healthy eating and the benefits to health, planning and transport sectors; and identify future opportunities and challenges to enhanced integration of health, active transport and land-use planning in NSW. Professor Corinne Mulley gave a Transport Case Study which included the following key topics: research evidence, quantifying the health benefits of active travel and the health costs of prolonged sitting in cars; financial advantages to NSW of reducing the number of short car trips; opportunities to incorporate health benefit quantification within standard transport infrastructure development processes; health and interagency collaboration opportunities.
ITLS PhD student Quoc Chinh Ho wins innovation grant from WCTRS
04 Feb 2013
ITLS PhD student Quoc Chinh Ho has won the World Conference on Transport Research Society (WCTRS) Innovation Grant for his paper titled: Inter-Personal Cooperation in Tour-based Mode Choice: the Role of Household Resources and Spatial Setting. The paper will be presented at the upcoming 13th World Conference on Transport Research (WCTR 2013 Rio) to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 15 to 18 July 2013.
"This paper analyses the daily arrangements of household activity and travel, taking interpersonal interactions into consideration," said Quoc Chinh Ho. "Recognising the role of household and personal needs in travel is an important step in transport policy formulation."
With members from 64 countries, WCTR brings together transport planners, policy makers and researchers from around the world, playing a leadership role in informing transport policies and bridging the gaps between research and practice.
Key Centre academics hold top rank in volume of peer reviewed papers in the World Transit Research repository
29 Jan 2013
Key Centre academics held the top three positions in the top 20 list of world authors by volume of peer reviewed papers included in the World Transit Research. Professor Graham Currie (Victoria Chair in Public Transport) held first position with 64 papers, Professor David Hensher (Director of ITLS) second with 46 papers and Professor Corinne Mulley (NSW Chair in Public Transport) third with 29 papers. The World Transit Research (WTR) is designed to help public transport practitioners and researchers get easier access to quality research in the field of public transport planning. WTR is a free repository of research papers, reports, research abstracts and links to research findings from leading research journals indexed and searchable to ensure easier access to topics of interest. The site is developed and run by the Public Transport Research Group at the Institute of Transport Studies, Monash University.
How well are we doing on the BRT Gold Standard - Professor Hensher's latest opinion piece for ABC Magazine
01 Jan 2013
There are a number of efforts to provide guidelines on what is a 'good' Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). A team of specialists1 that have worked on many of the world's best BRT systems have catalogued the main design features of BRT systems and have scored them as a way of signalling to consumers, decision-makers, and the general public that a particular BRT system or proposed system is of a certain quality in relation to 'best practice'.
To provide guidelines on the role of variations in BRT systems, the BRT Standard 2012, as it is now referred to, has recently been developed as a scoring system, for the purpose of recognising BRT systems around the world which have the characteristics of the world's best BRT systems. The best BRT systems are the ones that combine system efficiency with passenger comfort and convenience. Only the BRT Standard Committee is currently authorised to confer the BRT Standard Gold, Silver, or Bronze brand on a BRT system.
The BRT Standard 2012 approach is shown in the document linked below. The methodology of this scorecard approach is based on the award of points to elements of system design where these system design elements are known to consistently improve system performance, thus indirectly linking the BRT Standard to performance outcomes. The points combine to a total upon which the relevant standard (Gold = 85 or more points, Silver = 70-84 points, and Bronze = 50-69 points) (ITDP 2012).
The point system acts as a proxy for quality of customer service so that higher speed or better comfort or greater capacity as examples, attract higher points. The BRT standard gives detailed information as to how to score, including the rationale behind a system which achieves the maximum score, and systems which rate less well. The BRT Standard is an attempt to measure the BRT system relative to 'best practice' in system design with the metrics being applicable to a full range of BRT systems.
Whilst the different design elements are not explicitly weighted (although implicitly so through the maximum points available), the intention is to reward good design specifically rather than to performance per se. Although there is a strong link between good design and good performance, performance is additionally affected by the characteristics of the corridor, with favourable characteristics improving performance and vice versa.
Many important indicators of performance (such as door-to-door travel time and bus speed) have more to do with the innate characteristics of the BRT corridor than with the strength of the design. For example, higher bus speeds, which usually mean better performance, can be achieved by operating on limited access freeways with very few station stops. Slower speeds may be realised when the system passes through the city centre with higher stop frequencies and more traffic signals. As such, giving points for higher speeds would create a perverse incentive to reward project developers who put their BRT systems on limited access freeways and avoid downtown areas.
Perhaps more importantly, the BRT Standard is motivated by a need to help planning BRT rather than simply assessing the outcome of built systems. In this way cities and residents have a basis for comparison and the information to be able to ask for a higher quality system at the design stage which is more likely to lead to better performance.
I wonder how light rail in downtown Sydney might perform in contrast to what we are seeing in Brisbane with its growing system of busways? This is an interesting exercise that should be related to dollar outlays to establish value for money to taxpayers.
Food for thought
1 Walter Hook and senior staff, ITDP, Lloyd Wright, ADB, Dario Hidalgo, EMBARQ, Gerhard Menckhoff, World Bank (retired), ITDP Vice President, Wagner Colombini Martins, Logit Consultoria, and CarlosFelipe Pardo, Slow Research