Transport engineering covers the behaviour, optimisation and management of transport systems. Transport engineers plan, design and operate the large public and private infrastructure systems that connect our physical world. Modern society depends on a broad range of continually evolving, large-scale transport infrastructure, including road, rail, air and water. Transport engineers quantify and optimise our mobility infrastructure networks to meet travel and freight demands, while ensuring safety, equity and sustainability, at minimal levels of congestion and cost.
Transport planning involves developing calibrated mathematical techniques for forecasting travel demand and commuter behaviour. This needs to be based on many challenging variables such as:
- population growth
- changes from petroleum to electrical based power
- share vehicles
- future technological advances
- government emissions policy changes
Transport engineers face multi-faceted design decisions when they are designing optimised transport infrastructure networks. In all design decisions, multiple performance measures, cost metrics and safety criteria must be considered and weighed. These might relate to:
- the physical expansion of transport facilities, such as lane width or the number of lanes, for a roadway
- the materials and thickness used in pavements
- the geometry of a facility, such as a roadway, rail line or airport
- road pricing schemes
- deploying information-based technology
Transport operations, whether for road, rail, port or air traffic, are designed to minimise travel delays, improve safety, reduce emissions and enhance reliability, as well as taking other considerations into account. Transport operation decisions may involve optimising traffic signals, setting specific tolls, and designing traffic signs and markings.