Transport Studies Research Group

Transport Studies Group Research

The Department of Planning and Transport is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in research and teaching in transport. Since 1971, the University of Westminster has established a prominent reputation for carrying out a wide range of academic and applied research covering most transport sectors. Teaching is informed by our long established and successful track record in research.

Transport was a major contributor to the submission made by the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment to the Town and Country Planning Unit in the Research Assessment Exercise 2008. Seventy per cent of the work submitted was judged to be of an international standard, and within that 25 per cent was internationally excellent. Transport researchers frequently give papers at conferences and seminars, publish books, and write articles for scholarly and professional journals. Details can be found on the Westminster Research pages and on individual Staff Pages. We currently have eight PhD students attached to our department; see the PhD student webpages

Key research areas include Air Transport and Air Traffic Management, Cycling, Freight Transport and Logistics and Public Passenger Transport. External funding has come from a variety of organisations including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC), Commission of the European Communities, Eurocontrol, Department for Transport and other Government Departments, Scottish Government, Department of Education (NI), local authorities, regulatory and control bodies such as Transport for London (TfL) and NATS, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, transport operators in rail, air and bus sectors and various charitable foundations.

Key research areas

Air Transport and Air Traffic Management

This research area is run by a core team of three staff at Transport Studies: Dr. Nigel Dennis, Dr. Andrew Cook and Graham Tanner specialise in the closely integrated research areas of Air Transport and Air Traffic Management. The former encompasses airline and airport research at the level of route planning, economics of operation and competitive analysis (with collaborations with Dr Anne Graham from the Centre for Tourism Research in the area of airport management and economics. The latter specifically covers the operational practices and management of Air Traffic Control.

While Transport Studies focuses on a number of market niches in Air Transport and Air Traffic Management this remains an adaptive capability, in response to changes in the aviation market, in terms of the economics of route competition, of technical innovation in ATM, and of policy drivers – notably the growing awareness of and responses to the links between aviation and climate change.

We also run a series of air transport short courses. The speakers on these course consist of our own research and individuals heavily involved in the air transport industry.


Work on cycling is led by Dr. Rachel Aldred who co-ordinates the 30-member London Cycling Research Group (LCRG). It covers work building on the two year ESRC funded qualitative research project, Cycling Cultures, including ongoing research on cycling activism and advocacy in London.

Related funded projects include a new ESRC-funded project Changing Commutes, which will build an agent-based model exploring the role of social influence and social learning in cycling uptake (in collaboration with Cambridge University, LSHTM and Salford University), and the ESRC seminar series Modelling on the Move, which explores transport modelling in the context of sustainability transitions including the need for shifts to higher levels of cycling and walking.

Key networks include links with other universities through the LCRG and international networks, and links with public, private and voluntary sector organisations and practitioners involved in cycling.

Freight transport and logistics

Research into freight transport, distribution and logistics began in 1978 and has developed into one of the Group's major interests. It is carried out by a leading international research team with the majority of the projects involving national and international collaboration. Much of the research carried out in recent years has been concerned with the sustainability of freight transport and logistics operations both in the UK and internationally. This work is categorised by the following topics: (i) Sustainable urban freight transport and logistics, (ii) Encouraging the use of non-road freight transport modes, and (iii) Energy use and CO2 emissions along the supply chain.

The team has built up a considerable strength in working with partners from the public and private sector to achieve research goals and ensure knowledge transfer. Further details about the freight and logistics research team and a selection of recent projects can be found on the Freight and Logistics research page.

Public transport

Research in public transport began in 1971. It has developed under the leadership of Professor Peter White. ‘Public transport’ is taken to focus mainly on rail, metro, coach and bus systems but also includes taxis and private hire vehicles. Public transport research builds on the following strengths:

Research expertise in
  • monitoring of industry trends (ridership, financial performance, etc.)
  • impacts of deregulation and privatisation
  • measurement of ridership
  • impacts of teleworking on public transport systems
  • school transport issues
  • use of smartcard data for management purposes
  • the express coach industry
Detailed knowledge of
  • use of smartcard data for management purposes
  • the express coach industry
Good working relationships with
  • Transport for London (TfL)
  • organisations representing the transport operating industries including International Union of Public Transport (UITP)