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Research focus

The academic staff at the Centre of Transport Studies (CfTS) is actively engaged in numerous research projects funded by a range of national and international research funding agencies. 

Research at the Centre focuses on six main areas:

  1. Paratransit
  2. Non-motorised transport
  3. Land use – transport systems
  4. Travel behaviour
  5. Road safety
  6. Evaluation and assessment methods

Paratransit integration and reform

The improvement of public transport is essential to building inclusive and productive cities. Motivated by a concern that comprehensively replacing incumbent operations with formalised bus services is not universally possible, the integration and reform of paratransit has become a core research focus at the Centre. 'Minibus-taxis', ‘matatus', ‘daladalas' and their many paratransit counterparts across Sub-Saharan Africa play, and will continue to play, a dominant role in city public transport systems in the region. 

Non-motorised transportation (NMT)

The Centre seeks to promote NMT, to highlight it as an integral part of urban transportation, and to explore how supporting infrastructure can be improved. Pedestrian infrastructure is critical to the success of public transport investments and should be carefully considered in the planning process not only as a component of other transportation investment projects, but as standalone projects. Considering the price sensitivity of travel in cities in the Global South, NMT should receive more research, policy and implementation attention. 

Land use – transport system interaction and planning

The Centre takes a holistic approach to urban planning, understanding the intrinsic link between spatial and land use development and the viability and cost-effectiveness of public transport investments. The unexpectedly high operating subsidies associated with recently introduced BRT services in the South African context motivated enquiry into why this is the case, and what changes in urban form are required to make effective public transport more viable. Further concerns relate to user experiences and access to services. 

Travel behaviour change and estimation

With rapid urbanisation and growing incomes, the number of private vehicles is rapidly increasing in Sub-Saharan African cities. To counter this and to provide equitable mobility and accessibility for all, the Centre explores methods of travel demand management. There is also a need to better understand behavioural choices, and to estimate the resultant aggregated travel patterns. Specific areas of investigation have included: commuter behaviour change, accessibility modelling, and analysing crime and traffic safety on travel behaviour.

Road safety

Road safety is a major global concern, and is of particular importance in Sub-Saharan African contexts that see high rates of pedestrian movement despite incomplete walking infrastructures. Other safety issues stem from the geometric design of roadways, and the impacts of weather, visibility and traffic speed. Specific themes that have been explored include the spatial distribution of road crashes, patterns of freeway pedestrian crossing behaviour, and investigations into the impacts of topography, road alignments and other environmental factors on road safety. 

Evaluation and assessment methods

A further area of focus has been on the development of improved methods of evaluation and assessment, particularly in the area of public and non- motorised transport infrastructure. Within this area of research, themes that have been explored include spatial multi-criteria assessment tools for public transport network design, benefit-cost analysis tools for NMT infrastructure investments, and tools to measure of infrastructure walkability and walking routes to public transport services.