Opening: Chair in Public Transport


David Hensher writes:

I am in the early search phase to seek out interest in joining the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) as the Chair (Full Professor) in Public Transport. This is a full time position funded by the NSW Government and is a continuing appointment (i.e., tenured).  Professor Corinne Mulley has held the Chair since it was established and is retiring at the end of 2017. She will be continuing to be involved with ITLS as an Emeritus Professor.

Re: a timeline, we hope to be advertising in early September with a closing date at the end of November, with interviews after short listing in early 2018.



Public transport is an important element of the transport system and plays an increasingly important part in developing sustainable cities. The New South Wales (NSW) Government is committed to plans predicated on increasing public transport use which in turn requires professional capacity building to ensure that the skills and knowledge are available to support the development of public transport. These skills include:

  •   Integrated transport and land use accessibility and mobility planning.
  •   Transport policy and regulation evaluation.
  •   Transport modelling, pricing and parking policy development.
  •   Determining public transport planning and priority criteria.
  •   Traffic management.
  •   Appropriate use of information technology.
  •   Determining methods for efficient use of road space.
  •   Public transport planning.
  •   Public transport systems operation.

In 2007, the NSW Government established a partnership with the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies in the now University of Sydney Business School (previously the Faculty of Economics and Business) at the University of Sydney to assist in this general aim. In particular, the NSW Government aspired to this post accelerating research, education and training in public transport, in conjunction with in-service training provided by government bodies and support for a strong local government capability in public transport policy and planning.

The Chair has been held by Professor Corinne Mulley from 2008 to February 2018, who becomes an Emeritus Professor following her retirement. We are now looking to appoint a new Chair Professor to this prestigious position.


The motivation for the Chair in Public Transport grew out of recognition that there is a need in Sydney for some independent and ongoing framework within which the full agenda relevant to supporting public transport in a balanced transport system can be housed. A major objective is to increase knowledge and learning of public transport within the transport industry (and the community in general, including the media) through research and educational activities including briefings, papers, workshops, training courses, opinion pieces and media commentary. A major thrust of the chair’s inception was to enhance learning and understanding regarding public transport development associated with Sydney in particular and NSW in general.

This Chair will be active in directing the overall program of public transport research, education, and training, overarching all themes of interest to ITLS, government and industry. Given the Institute’s strong interest and reputation in urban transport, the Chair will focus to a great extent (but not entirely) on passenger transport issues in urban areas. Themes that are high on the agenda

include growing patronage, efficient service delivery, environmental impacts, traffic congestion, the future of public transport, public transport performance in urban areas, mobility as a service, community transport, rural and regional transport needs, and optimal mixing of transport and land use facilities.

The key activities of the chair should include all areas listed below:

  •   Research
  •   Professional and Public Seminar Presentations
  •   Independent Media Commentary
  •   Industry Training (including briefing forums)
  •   Interaction with government through customised training, dissemination activities and one-to-one interactions
  •   Professional Office Roles
  •   Refereeing for International Conferences and Journals
  •   Conference/Workshop organisation
  •   University Teaching (public transport courses)
  •   Other Activities
  •   Publications
  •   Contract research

The Chair, in particular, will be active in tracking global developments in areas such as public transport reform, the performance of the public modes, technological developments to enhance the performance of PT, the growing interest in bus rapid transit (BRT) through the Volvo Research Education Foundation Centre in ITLS (in partnership with MIT, PUC Chile and Embarq), integrated transport systems, the role of PT in delivering sustainable transport outcomes, funding of PT, planning systemwide public transport services, supporting rural accessibility needs, the challenges facing socially excluded societies and the broad role of PT.


Regular guidance on the chair’s activities will be provided through an annual ‘chair in public transport reference group’ meeting. This meeting will review the current and planned future activities of the chair and provide guidance on future work program priorities. This group shall comprise senior representatives from Transport for NSW, the University of Sydney and other invitees as appropriate.

Profile of the Appointee

As this will be a high profile appointment, the incumbent will be expected to represent the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies and the University of Sydney Business School (and the University more generally) on the national and international stage. The successful candidate, who may be from any discipline, will be personable, dynamic, outgoing and imaginative. He or she must have the leadership abilities and flair necessary to motivate the Institute’s research and teaching programs in public transport and be an active commentator on public transport matters.

The person must have a commitment to a broad perspective on public transport and be aware of and committed to the role of strategic, tactical, and operational initiatives and the systems view of passenger transport logistics.

Other Attributes of the Person to be Appointed

Given that this position is a leadership position, applicants must have the following credentials:

  1. A strong track record of involvement in public transport
  2. A strong track record in research focussed on public transport
  3. A strong track record in lecturing or giving presentations in a relevant area
  4. Substantial success in generating funds in general
  5. Demonstrated ability to manage research teams and deliver high quality research outputsleading to publication in the relevant journals in the field.
  6. Demonstrated ability to work with persons in government and industry in promoting debateand an evidence base on public transport policy, strategy and system performance.
  7. Demonstrated evidence of working well with external bodies in the capacity of both consultant and joint researcher, especially the government sector, peak (advocacy) bodies andthe media
  8. Demonstrated capability of independent media commentary.
  1. Demonstrated reputation in attracting outside interest in activities of a research institute such as ITLS.
  2. Demonstrated ability to represent the Institute and the University on the national and international stage.
  3. Demonstrated leadership abilities and flair necessary to motivate the Institute’s research and teaching programs (award and non-award) in public passenger transport logistics.

Inquiries and Application Details

Confidential enquiries regarding the position may be made with Professor David Hensher, Director, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, email

The position is full-time continuing and may be subject to the completion of a satisfactory probation period for new appointees. Membership of a University-approved superannuation scheme is a requirement for new appointees.

The I-35W Bridge Collapse, Ten Years On

August 1 marks the tenth anniversary of the tragic and shocking collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis.

Around the fifth anniversary, I did an 8-part blog series on the subject, which is worth re-upping:


Motivated by the collapse, we conducted a number of inter-related studies, powered empirically by traffic and GPS data collected before and after the bridge reopening:

The nice thing from a scientific perspective was the ability to use the GPS data collected before and after the bridge reopening for other studies as well, the data comprised part of four of my student’s dissertations, and several from Henry Liu’s students.


Another thing to note, from a career perspective, was that this research agenda was an unanticipated turn. Though I had done some empirical route choice studies before hand, and so was primed to take this direction, I was moving more into the transport and land use and network evolution realm. If you had asked me on July 31, 2007 what I would start working on on August 2, 2007, this was not it.