The research conducted at the TSU addresses transport and mobility from different thematic, theoretical and methodological perspectives.

Four broad themes can be identified:

Thinking differently about transport

Electric vehicles. Autonomous cars. E-scooters. New technological developments or big infrastructure projects are often sold as the silver bullet solution to our problems – whether those are carbon emissions and climate change; mobility for those who are elderly or disabled; or the need to increase access to housing, jobs and trade.

The TSU, however, believes that the answers to global challenges in transport lie not only with vehicles and technology, but also with people. Transport – the flow of information, goods and humans – is central to our society and affects each and every one of us. Transport is about getting the things done that you need to do, in your everyday life. It can be a cause of friction, stress and damage, but also brings social opportunity, access and wellbeing.

Research that moves us towards a sustainable and fair transport system

Transport has the power to transform lives for better and for worse.

From injustices to impracticalities, TSU research can often uncover the unforeseen consequences of transport innovation, investment and policy. By advancing understandings of the systems, processes and practices that shape the way we move, the TSU hopes to inspire and inform change towards a more sustainable, just and accessible transport system.

Combining qualitative and quantitative research methods – ethnography, interviews, surveys, data analysis, systems modelling – the TSU provides important insights into how people use and negotiate transport systems, as well scientific evidence and recommendations for the public and private sectors.

Research Funding

The TSU is a largely self-funded research institute and most members of staff are contract researchers who are funded through external grants.

The most important funding sources have been the European Commission and the UK Research Councils, including the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Other bodies that are funding our research include programmes and institutes within the University of Oxford; research councils in other European countries; organisations such as the ADB, ASEAN, WHO, OECD and UN Habitat; and charities such as the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund. A small part of our funding is generated through activities other than research, including university teaching, executive education and consultancy.

We are always developing projects and ideas for future research. The TSU has an excellent track record in collaborative projects and is keen to develop new partnerships with research groups and funding agencies.