In 2011 a research team comprising members from the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney were awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) Grant funding 3 years research into the use of Digital Information Technologies in Public Transport Environments. The project commenced in July 2012 and is scheduled to be completed in June 2014.

The innovative aspects of the ARC research team, working together under the label ‘Encircle’, emerge from the combination of transport planning and engineering knowledge with urban design principles of public space, robotics engineering and human computer interaction design.

Project aims

The project aims to investigate low-cost approaches to transport infrastructure expansion through the use of digital information technologies that work in combination with existing hard infrastructures to improve passenger flow through facilities and distribute loads across services by providing useable and novel forms of information to passengers. The vision is to enhance the customer experience while increasing mode-share and revenue performance of public transport, reducing operating costs, energy use and service disruption during periods of upgrade and refurbishment.

The research objectives are to:

  • - Investigate related research and projects in the area.
  • - Research user and other stakeholder requirements.
  • - Design, deploy and evaluate prototypes to proof-of-concept stage in real locations.
  • - Develop spatial and architectural integration of digital technologies and their application in public transport environments.

Research outcomes

Innovations the project aims to achieve include:

Enhance the customer experience: responsive and user predictive technologies enable passengers to reduce waiting times, avoid crowding and more confidently navigate unknown parts of public transport environments.

Enhancing passenger flow without rebuilding existing infrastructure: minimising disruption and costs to transport service provision.

Coherent, architecturally designed and integrated smart public transport environment spaces: achieved for legibility and to avoid visual and spatial clutter within the research context of retrofitting existing stations.

Dynamic public transport environment information: the ability of signage and information to respond dynamically to changing contexts, such as delays and overcrowding.

Extending the trend for affordable soft infrastructure: features such as timetables and differential ticketing prices to optimise capacities avoid expenditure on high-cost hard infrastructures such as track and stations.

Improving accessibility for all user groups: the needs of different age groups and the cognitively, physically or visually disadvantaged will be included in development objectives.

Strategic value: with industry evaluating the growing range of partial and total digital information technology solutions on offer internationally, this research will establish a strategic understanding of the field for public transport environments in Australia.

Project partners

University partners and research groups:

Industry partners and organisations: