Industrial PHD in Passenger Behaviour, Terminal Design and Urban Surroundings for Attractive Public Transport

Tuesday 06 Apr 21

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The Copenhagen Metro Company and DTU are looking for excellent PhD applicants to help us analyse travel behaviour and public transport systems, particularly with the focus to design of stations and design criterion of their urban surroundings. The PhD position is part of the EASIER project (Seamless sustainable everyday urban mobility) funded by a research grant from ERA-NET JPI Urban Europe and Innovation Fund Denmark, with employment 1 May 2021 or when agreed upon.

The PhD applicant will collaborate closely with the Network Modelling Section at the Transport Division, Department of Management, Technical University of Denmark. The research group consists of scholars with expert knowledge within various aspects of the field, with focus on gaining behavioural insights from large-scale data sources and use this for policy and planning recommendations. As the PhD project is part of a large research project close collaboration with the other partners and stakeholders in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany will also be possible.

The study will have an external stay abroad at one of the partner organizations.

Road congestion in urban areas and transport emissions from the transport sector are rapidly increasing, despite the increased focus on delivering sustainable transport. Public transport, walking and biking are less energy demanding and are more sustainable, than car transport and provide large health benefits. Moreover, these modes require less urban space to deliver mobility. In order to achieve a mode shift to sustainable transport modes more insights on heterogeneous user behaviour and preferences in the new urban mobility landscape are needed. Analysing empirical data with the purpose of extracting how public transport in combination with active modes can be more attractive is the overall focus of this PhD study.

Specifically, the study aims at creating new user insights on user behaviour using data analytics for analysing passenger preferences. A strong focus will be on the interplay between the public transport system and its surroundings, and how urban design and design of terminals can improve the accessibility of urban transport users. The analyses can be based on a combination of existing large-scale data sources, including travel survey data, public transport passenger satisfaction surveys, and/or Rejsekort data, which is a big data source that include revealed route choices of passengers. These will be combined with new data collections related to the characteristics of urban environments and terminals that are found important for the passenger experiences.

Responsibilities and tasks 
You will be involved in and contribute to all phases of the EASIER project, with the possibility to adapt the specific focus and methodological approach to your research interests and skills. 

The research topics you may investigate include the following:

  • Contribution to the project’s multidisciplinary literature review on user behaviour and preferences in collaboration with project partners.
  • Empirical analysis of survey data: Comparison of metadata for European, US and Australian cities. Detailed exploration and statistical analysis of travel behaviour data from the Copenhagen area and to the extent possible also other cities from the project, investigating the users’ perceived experience of conducted public transport journeys.
  • Qualitative review and study on factors related to attractive terminal design and urban surroundings, possibly including a smaller qualitative survey on this topic. Possible classification of stations in Copenhagen following these guidelines.
  • Quantitative analysis of traveller preferences related to attractive terminal design and access/egress modes, including how efficient and attractive station design influence public transport ridership, the influence of built environment around stations, and importance of facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists, qualitatively and quantitatively.

The impact of the project has the potential to be huge, as the output can help solve the challenge in creating sustainable urban mobility and ultimately support that decisions regarding the transportation system of tomorrow is based on a better foundation. 

Besides your work with the research project you will be enrolled in one or more projects at the Copenhagen Metro, that are relevant to subject of the PhD. It can be analysis of the design of future metro stations or the development of the transport hub at Ny Ellebjerg, Copenhagen. It will be expected that part of your time will be used at the Copenhagen Metros offices at Ørestad.

Candidates should have:

  • A MSc degree (120 ECTS points) in Transportation Modelling or Engineering, Urban Planning, Geography, Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Behavioural or Experimental Economics, or related
  • Skills related to handling and analysing large datasets
  • Knowledge on applied statistical methods
  • Relevant independent research skills proven through a top-ranked master thesis

The following soft skills are also important:

  • Curiosity and interest about how transportation networks operate and perform
  • Interest in passenger behaviour and behavioural and attitudinal data
  • Good communication skills in English, both written and orally
    • Danish/Scandinavian language skills are preferable, but not compulsory
    • Willingness to engage in group-work with a multi-national team

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in the DTU Management PhD-program. For information about enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide and guide for industrial PhDs

We offer
The PhD will be employed at the Metro Company. The work time will be split between the Metro Company and DTU, thus combining practice and relevance with research and securing impact of the obtained results. The main advisor will be Professor Otto Anker Nielsen, DTU, with Assistant Professor Jesper Ingvardson, and the Metro Company as co-advisors.

The Metro Company is a very active and dynamic company responsible for all phases of planning - from initial strategic analysis to actual operation of the metro system. The PhD-student will be integrated into the Plan & Development Department and get hand-on advises related to the development of metro and light rail projects in Greater Copenhagen from a dynamic environment of leading experts and planners.

DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility. 

As part of a large project, the PhD will have access to unique large-scale real data and industry feedback. The student will be part of a strong international network in the project.

Salary and appointment terms 
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations with an attractive salary scheme; The period of employment is 3 years. 

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Otto Anker Nielsen or Jesper Overgaard at the Metro Company on 3311 1700. 

You can read more about DTU Management on and the Metro Company at

Please submit your online application no later than 16 April 2021 via Copenhagen Metro Company website; Industrial PHD in Passenger Behaviour, Terminal Design and Urban Surroundings for Attractive Public Transport.