Transport Planning & Operations

The research program in transportation planning and operations is broadly focused in three areas:

  • Travel behaviour research for developing countries
  • Public transport – network and operational planning
  • Access, mobility and exclusion

The use of new technologies and big data is a cross-cutting thread that runs across all three thematic areas.

Examples of recent work in these areas include:

Information behaviour of public transport users

As transport and digital technologies increasingly converge, new opportunities are emerging for providing better information to public transport users that will make their experience safer and more convenient. However many information products (like apps) are not based on a thorough understanding of how passengers need, search for, find, and use information. In this research we explore passenger needs through the lens of Information Behaviour. We also work with minibus-taxi users and partners in academia and the digital tech space to develop new techniques for providing information.


The whole-trip approach to public transport


Public transport is about more than just a trip in a bus or minibus. The whole-trip approach emphasises the first/last mile (1LM) and connections between services. CTD research focuses on developing an understanding of passenger experiences and expectations on the whole journey, and develops methods to measure and monitor the quality of the 1LM and integration, for use by both transport professionals and communities.  The tools have been applied to both Gautrain and BRT systems in Gauteng and eThekwini (Durban).

Priority infrastructure for informal modes in hybrid public transport networks

A number of research projects are looking at ways of better integrating minibus-taxis into a citywide public transport network, by doing things such as building special lanes for taxis, or implementing a common fare payment system using smart cards, or planning for easy transfers between vehicles. Computer models of such optimised networks have shown that significant benefits can accrue to both passengers (in terms of faster trips) and operators (in terms of faster turnaround times), and that a case can be made for reprioritising scarce road space in our cities towards public transport. Ongoing research is investigating the implications of rolling out priority lanes and infrastructure priority measures (such as queue jumping lanes) on a city-wide basis.

This video is a recent talk by Prof Christo Venter on the efforts and research results to date:

Advanced methods for collecting travel choice information using smartphones

Understanding route choice behaviour in congested, dense urban road environments is key to the development of traffic demand models, transport policy formulation and the estimation of willingness-to-pay measures such as the non-work related value of travel time. However collecting reliable driver route choice preference data is not straightforward. The CTD developed a smartphone-based application to collect self-validating route choice preference data from motorists. It combines revealed preference (RP) and stated preference (SP) methods with the advantage of generating route alternatives based on real-time traffic conditions. For further information on RAPP-UP (Route Choice Application - University of Pretoria), see:

Mobility and access in African cities

African cities are making progress in investing in new fixed-route bus and rail systems, but still face major challenges in extending the benefits of access to all their residents. The CTD has recently co-authored a systematic review of the state of knowledge on public transport system design and modal integration, on behalf of VREF’s Mobility and Access in African Cities (MAC) programme. The report reviews current challenges and achievements in Sub-Saharan African cities. Download it here.


- Author C J Venter

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