Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Sekhar Somenahalli

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
03 Jun 2024

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (2024 rate) available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Help create equitable and accessible public transport

If you are seeking to launch your career in Civil Transport Engineering and Urban Transport Planning and are keen to improve equal access to public transport, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD with real societal impact within Sustainable Infrastructure and Resource Management (SIRM), in partnership with the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT).

Public transportation is vital to the health of cities and transport planners aim to promote equity and invoke fairness and justice for all populations. In most cases, this involves allocating public goods and services to those most in need – usually low-income, disadvantaged populations. In Australia there is a lack of services in fringe suburban areas, where these populations usually live.

Our project focuses on low-density cities in the Australian urban context to examine the ‘transit desert’ concept. In transit deserts, disadvantaged and transit-dependent populations are not provided with adequate transit supply. We will explore the gap between what transit services offer (supply) and what a particular population needs (demand).

There are areas of high demand (transit dependency) and low supply (as measured by transit supply indices) in transit deserts. We will use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to calculate and quantify transit demand and supply gaps.

Our aim is to develop a framework for calculating and quantifying the supply of public transportation services that can be applied anywhere. This framework can be used to determine where new routes and stops should be located as well as how much service should be provided to certain areas.

Our project establishes a method for quantifying and calculating locations with inadequate transit service based on a population’s needs. We will establish a new paradigm for addressing transportation problems.

You will be based in SIRM and interact with colleagues across STEM. This collegial and supportive group will provide you with the resources and expert guidance and mentorship that will allow you to thrive in your studies.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, the objective is for you to develop the framework for calculating and quantifying the supply of public transportation services. The DIT office will also provide you with access to their specialised software, data and reports.

We will support you to present your research findings through appropriate forums.

This project offers you hands-on experience and valuable industry connections that will position you well upon graduation.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based at SIRM. We undertake research in physical infrastructure management and the sustainable management of assets. SIRM applies circular economy philosophy and carbon reduction solutions to ensure sustainable communities throughout the world.

SIRM recognises that the challenge of moving to a more sustainable future requires an understanding of the complexity and interactions of human, natural, and built systems. We bring together diverse research expertise to address significant societal challenges at the interface of the natural and built environments at all scales. We offer clients the potential to address real problems using multidisciplinary teams. Our goal is to efficiently use resources to manage the natural and built environments sustainably.

Our members include world-leading researchers in sustainable management and systems analysis, as well as experts in various disciplines of science and engineering ranging from environmental, construction, transportation, food, social, and community.

We are involved in research construction projects in both water and transport supporting liveable regions / regional economic growth. We also undertake research in the maintenance aspect of assets (physical infrastructure management), sustainable management of assets in tactical asset management (interface between strategic and operational management), integrating the circular economy philosophy, and applying carbon reduction considerations. We work in ecology, environmental restoration, planning for liveable cities and regions, and building carbon-resilient regenerative communities.

Supervisory team

Department of Infrastructure and Transport
Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $50,291 per annum. A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from Australian or New Zealand citizens, and Australian permanent residents or permanent humanitarian visa holders. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally applicants must meet the projects selection criteria:
  • Skills and experience in GIS
  • Experience in statistical analysis
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our Mawson Lakes campus in the north of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Monday 3 June 2024.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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