Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Season's Greetings

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Centre for Transport Studies at Leeds, as the forerunner of ITS which was later formed in 1971. Our 50th year began with a visit by the Secretary of State for Transport to officially re-open the ITS building, following completion of a £4m project to extend and fully refurbish our facilities. During his visit, Mr Grayling met with leading researchers who showcased various ITS research impacts including Network Rail's efficiency targets and Euro NCAP's safety ratings of new cars.

"I'm confident that Leeds University students will play a huge part in shaping a modern transport system for the future" 

Rt. Hon. Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport.   

A notable achievement this year was ITS' excellent position in global rankings for transport studies, achieving 4th of 150 institutions in the world, some 17 places above its nearest UK competitor. Shanghai Ranking's Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) presents the top universities globally based on a set of objective indicators and third-party data. At the University level, our optimism was further buoyed by Leeds' award of the University of the Year 2017 by The Times and The Sunday Times 'Good University Guide', as well as a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

We continue to enjoy hearing about the activities of our alumni via LinkedIn, Twitter, and our alumni website. During the past year, we were delighted to welcome return visits to Leeds by Raquel Lopez (2010) at the ITS summer BBQ and Leighton Cardwell (2006) at our induction week networking event. Chris Allan (2013), James Reeves (1989) and Noor Zaitun Yahaya (2011) all gave seminars at ITS. The University Big Get Together campaign saw five worldwide events hosted by ITS alumni in Ghana, Uganda, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia. 

Many of our alumni continue to meet each other around the world at conferences, events and in the workplace, proving that ITS really is the hub of a global transport network. We had the opportunity to catch up with alumni across Indonesia, USA, Argentina, Uruguay, Germany and New Zealand. We currently have 155 career profiles on our website, representing some 54 countries. If you would like to post a profile, then please email usClick here to read more alumni news, events and profiles. 

In 2017, as with previous years, we have welcomed newcomers, bid farewell to leavers, and celebrated promotions. Professor Samantha Jamson was promoted to a Chair in Transport and Psychology, and Professor Andrew Daly was awarded Emeritus status on his retirement after 20 years' service to ITS. New staff who joined ITS this year include: Magda Cepeda, David Palma, Hrvoje Jukic, Emma Tsoneva, Gillian Harrison, Oscar Giles, Kirstie Stewart, Jean-Christophe Thiebaud, Fangni Zhang, Samuel Bennett, Chiara Calastri, Tyron Louw and Albert Solernou Crusat. We said goodbye to Ahmed Faysal Abdullahi, Astrid Guehnemann, James Laird, Luigi Pariota, Louise Reardon and Dong Ngoduy.

In memoriam Dr Frank Lai 1969-2017: we are deeply saddened to inform you that our friend, colleague and alumnus Frank Lai recently passed away after a courageous battle against cancer. Frank graduated from ITS with an MSc (Eng) Transport Planning & Engineering in 1997 and continued his PhD in Transport Studies graduating in 2005. In his honour, the University lowered its flag on the day of his funeral in commemoration of Frank's dedicated service to the institution. His legacy will be carried forward into the future as we celebrate his life through the newly created annual Frank Lai Student Award for "most impactful dissertation" that will be presented for the first time at this year's Graduation ceremony on 14 December. Frank will be missed by us all – current and former staff and students spread across the world. If you would like to send a personal message to his family reflecting on your favourite memories of Frank please send them via email to us and we will pass on them on.

Turning to student education, the 2016/17 academic year saw the recruitment of some 90 students from more than 30 countries to our flagship Masters programmes, partly stimulated by the substantive refresh of our postgraduate portfolio. This included the first run of our new 'Transport Integrated Project', which involves multidisciplinary teams of students working under the direction of senior academics and practitioners to address the real world practical problem of re-modelling transport and mobility around Leeds City Square.    

In research and innovation, 2017 has seen significant growth in research activity in line with the University's Strategic Plan 2015-2020, such that the Institute has assembled a research portfolio worth some £14M in contract value. Details of our key research developments during the year are available on our website and include the following:

Research student Fiona Crawford was awarded the Smeed Prize 2017, which recognises the best student paper and presentation at the Universities' Transport Study Group (UTSG) annual conference. Fiona presented a paper entitled 'A method for clustering road users based on trip regularity using Bluetooth data', and was commended by the judges for the high quality of both her written and oral presentations of the work. 

Research by ITS has added to the body of evidence about the dangerous levels of air pollution emitted from diesel vehicles. Working with Transport for London, Dr James Tate investigated the emission performance of a range of new (Euro 6/VI) cars, trucks and buses. The results showed that, despite permissible levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions being achieved under laboratory conditions, levels in real driving conditions from diesel cars were significantly higher.

Beyond ITS, Professor Peter Woodward has been appointed as Chair in High Speed Rail Engineering in the School of Civil Engineering. He will be responsible for developing a new Institute for High Speed Rail Engineering at the University, using his expertise in geotechnical engineering to create a world leading research and innovation hub with an emphasis on train-track interaction and infrastructure systems.

An ITS research team led by Professor Natasha Merat has been commissioned by Innovate UK as part of the HumanDrive consortium to undertake a £15M study under the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV2) programme. The objective of this study is to develop an autonomous vehicle with human-like, natural control and path planning, capable of successfully completing end-to-end journeys in a variety of settings. 

A research paper by Professor Karen Lucas, Dr Giulio Mattioli, Alvaro Guzman and Ersilia Verlinghieri entitled 'Transport poverty and its adverse social consequences' won the ICE Publishing Webb Prize 2017 as the 'best paper on non-road transport engineering'. The prize is awarded to authors who have produced work judged by their peers to be of exceptional quality and benefit to the civil engineering, construction and materials science community.

A new online tool developed by Dr Robin Lovelace in collaboration with three other UK universities will help policymakers to identify the areas and routes in England that offer the greatest potential for cycling. The Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT), funded by the Department for Transport, will help prioritise transport investment decisions and is widely seen as representing a step-change in planning strategically to promote cycling. 

The London Assembly Transport Committee report 'London's Bus Network' has found that, following a decade of strong growth, bus passenger numbers are now in decline. In the report, Dr Ronghui Liu called for a redesign of the bus network based on the feeder/trunk model and improvements to the bus passenger experience with better information and facilities.  

Close to 500 participants convened for the 15th CIVITAS Forum, including Professor Susan Grant-Muller in her capacity as leader of the EMPOWER project funded by Horizon 2020. EMPOWER's Take-Up City, Bologna, won the CIVITAS Award 2017 in the "Bold Measure" category for their Bella Mossa Campaign. This award is given to a city that adopts a daring and innovative approach to sustainable urban mobility.

And finally, are you interested in recruiting ITS graduates in 2018? 

Each year we hold two days of employer visits. On these days, employers from the transport sector visit the campus to give presentations to, and/or interview, current students. This is a unique opportunity for students to gain direct access to employers, and for employers to gain access to ITS graduates. For more details click here 

Since our international students make up two-thirds of our full-time cohort and are drawn from more than 30 countries, international job opportunities would also be greatly welcomed. We invite employers to use our LinkedIn page, to upload job advertisements directly under the 'jobs' tab. If you would like to register your interest in our virtual employer days, or the visit days, then please email.

Hopefully, this message has given you a flavour of the events of 2017, and insight into what might follow in 2018. The Institute looks forward to keeping in touch with you, and we extend our best wishes for the festive period wherever you are. 

Professor Richard Batley
Institute Director