Transportation Research Centre

Our vision is to be an international leader in transportation engineering research by developing best practice in the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of transport systems.

The University of Auckland's Transportation Research Centre (TRC) is dedicated to conducting research that covers all aspects of Transportation Engineering. We explore a broad range of research areas, from road construction materials and infrastructure asset management, to traffic systems, driver behaviour, and public transit.

Transportation infrastructure is a critical part of New Zealand’s future, and the TRC is the driving force behind integrating innovation, research, and commercial intelligence to provide superior outcomes. We aim to provide a vibrant and innovative research hub for both academic and commercial research by bringing together multidisciplinary expertise from Engineering, Science and Business faculties. Since our inception in 2008, we have grown to include over 35 staff and postgraduate students.

We have extensive collaborative ties with local government, industry and commercial interests, as well as with many international research institutes. Over the years we’ve analysed, supported, and improved transportation and road practices across New Zealand. The TRC has a respected global reputation and strong collaborative ties with international research centres.

With the addition of our first laboratory in the world-class facilities at Newmarket Campus, we are poised and ready to provide long term, practical and budget-efficient solutions for industry. We provide a comprehensive range of testing capabilities, specialised equipment and software.

Our research

Transportation engineering aims to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods by land, sea, and air. This encompasses planning, design, construction, maintenance and operations of transport systems, including their economic, social and environmental impact. Sound management of our transport infrastructure is crucial to the continued economic growth of New Zealand and particularly important in the Auckland region where existing transport is struggling to cope with the ever increasing demand.

The transportation research team have a wide range of funded road and transport research projects. The primary research activities of this team include the management of the road and rail assets, including safety and environmental aspects, and the development of models to assist in understanding their performance. Recent and ongoing research has focussed on the following:

  • Calibration of pavement performance models on the New Zealand State Highway network and, where necessary, the development of new model forms
  • Analysis and modelling of road pavement skid resistance
  • Development of a deterioration model for the New Zealand rail network, with the long-term goal of enabling whole of life costing of the rail asset
  • Modelling the effects of traffic congestion on fuel consumption and vehicle emissions
  • Prediction of crashes at roundabouts
  • Improved multi-lane roundabout design for cyclists

Ongoing research collaborations

  • Microscopic traffic data collection using instrumented vehicles
  • Experimental analysis of car following dynamics and traffic stability
  • Performance evaluation of microscopic traffic flow models
  • Modal choices with discrete choice models
  • Locating and monetising Park-and-Ride facilities
  • Analysis of travel time and traffic capacity as a part of transportation network design
  • Developing a model for public transport with flexible routes based on distributed computing
  • Optimising public transport scheduling processes using multiple vehicle types
  • Comparable studies that measure traffic flow and safety characteristics
  • The calibration of pavement performance models on the New Zealand State Highway network
  • Bridge technology and bridge management system optimisation. Analysis and modelling of road pavement skid resistance
  • Crash reduction and prevention
  • The development of a deterioration model for the New Zealand rail network
  • Improving pavement and rehabilitation design and material use
  • Modelling the effects of traffic congestion on fuel consumption and vehicle emissions
  • The prediction of crashes at roundabouts
  • Improved multi-lane roundabout design for cyclists

Industry collaborations

The Transportation Research Centre has led a broad range of collaborations with industry in the past. The primary research activities at TRC include, but are not limited to:

  • Management of the road and rail assets
  • Traffic engineering
  • Traffic safety
  • Driver behaviour
  • Public transport operations planning
  • Road pricing
  • Surfaces and safety
  • Environmental studies
  • Optimisation studies

Our facilities

The TRC has invested in high quality transportation and traffic research facilities, laboratories and equipment. Our physical and virtual facilities include equipment and software to analyses the interface between the driver, road and vehicle. The TRC are also in possession of equipment that examines pavement performance; pavement skid resistance and traffic signal performance and the visualisation of traffic control movements on Auckland’s motorways, streets and bridges.

The TRC is currently in the process of expanding its equipment and software to include a Driving Simulator, Geographical Information System (GIS), Optimization software, and a Pavement Materials Laboratory in collaboration with EDI Downer Works.

Data Visualisation Laboratory

The Data Visualisation Laboratory is part of University of Auckland's Transport research study. This high-end lab has connectivity across the globe. The laboratory has extensive video conferencing facilities as well as computing facilities capable of doing detailed transportation simulations. This lab will also be negotiating connectivity for data across various other entities including NZTA, CAPTIF and other research entities.

Our people

Our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The TRC aligns with the Te Ao Māori principles of Waipapa Taumata Rau, to positively impact Aotearoa New Zealand society and advance the necessary knowledge to enable equitable and improved well-being in transportation systems whilst respecting tikanga practices.

We have developed partnerships with Māori researchers and communities to ensure resources are assigned to enable research to be undertaken by Māori for Māori. We seek ways to co-create and co-design research that not only has improved outcomes, but that strengthens relationships by ensuring principles of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga are applied.

Our research team has established key relationships with Māori in urban rural communities as we have engaged with Māori organisations and Rūnanga in the Tamaki Makaurau and central to lower north island rohe.

Our team is experienced in working with Māori communities and ensuring value is gained not only from research project outcomes, but value is specifically gained for the Māori communities where the research is being undertaken.

The TRC takes a long-term research partnership approach with Māori researchers and communities based upon mutual respect and ensuring appropriate tikanga is followed. The TRC seeks on all projects to transfer data, skills, project coordination and management of positive outcomes for Māori.