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The University of Southampton
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Dr Ben Waterson B.Sc. M.Sc. Ph.D.

Associate Professor in Transportation

Dr Ben Waterson's photo

Dr Ben Waterson is an Associate Professor in Transportation within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

I have been a member of the Transportation Research Group since 1997, with both teaching and research responsibilities.

With a background in statistics and operational research methods much of my early research focused on issues related to quantifying behavioural responses to traveller information and representing these within existing simulation models, real-time urban journey time estimation, the development of incident detection algorithms and enabling research into the fusion of disparate sources of traffic and environmental data to generate more comprehensive views of current network conditions. More recent projects have focused on improving urban traffic control, air quality monitoring and wider aspects of traveller behaviour.

The predominant theme throughout all my research is developing understanding how all the component parts of the transport system operate, behave and interact. To achieve this I frequently work in partnership with local and national government, and industrial and academic partners from across Europe. For more information on my current areas of research please see the Research Tab above.


In addition to my teaching and research roles, I have also held a number of administrative posts within the University. These have included: 

Externally I am a member of the editorial board for the Institution of Civil Engineers : Transport journal.

Research Interests

The predominant themes throughout my research are the monitoring, modelling and understanding of how all the component parts of the road transport system operate, behave and interact.

This overarching holistic view however by necessity encompasses a wide range of issues ranging from pure mathematical approaches and artificial intelligence at one extreme to pure psychology and behavioural response approaches at the other extreme.

Some of the specific research projects with which I have been involved are therefore categorised here by their application area to highlight the linkages between projects and approaches.

Transport Infrastructure

  • Traffic Monitoring

Increasing diversity in the ways in which we can monitor travel produces data fusion challenges 

  • Junction Design

A key aspect of road transport systems, improved junction designs can improve safety and reduce delay

  • Public Transport

When road-space is a limited resource, public transport provides a way to increase utilisation

  • Car Parking 

Poor car-parking provision can lead to delays and air pollution as drivers search for an available space

Helping new detection techniques supplement existing technologies
Real-Time Traffic Monitoring
Improving safety and reducing delays
Improving Junction Design

Transport Operations

  • Urban Traffic Control 

Ensuring that the traffic lights respond to the vehicles as much as the drivers respond to the traffic lights

  • Driving

Understanding how detailed vehicle movements and interactions relate to system performance and levels of safety

  • Cooperative Systems 

Communications technology enables travellers, vehicles and infrastructure to interact               

  • Cycling

Increasing emphasis on non-motorised travel means more research is needed into cycle facilities and cycle behaviour

Using artificial intelligence to respond to congestion
Urban Traffic Control
Predicting how drivers respond to their surroundings
Driver Behaviour
To understand how they interact with each other and with vehicles
Modelling Cyclists

Traveller Behaviour

  • Route Choice

Understanding travellers choice of routes and how information affects these choices provides an important way to reduce travel delays

  • Education

Increasing awareness and training can influence the safety and sustainability of the transport system

  • Privacy 

More comprehensive monitoring of travel enables more efficient transport systems, but how much is too much monitoring ?

  • Environmental Choices

At both the global level (climate change) and the local level (air quality), environmental and sustainability is a part of modern travel choices


Understanding why people make travel choices
Traveller Behaviour
Are you happy with your travel being 'watched' ?

Freight and Logistics  

  • Logistics Operations

Improved delivery scheduling (especially including effects of congestion and consolidation) can reduce vehicle movements      

  • Recycling/Waste 

End of life logistics when objects are recycled or donated can cause as many issues as for the logistics of their original delivery


Research group

Transportation Group

Research project(s)

Predicting and mitigating small fluctuations in station dwell times

Member, Faculty Ethics Committee

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Book Chapter



Most of my teaching is either related to the modelling and simulation of road transport systems (including both the travellers and infrastructure) or the use of statistical methods in a transport context.

The modules that I teach are mainly intended for students taking either the postgraduate MSc Transportation Planning and Engineering degree programme or one of the group of undergraduate Civil Engineering degree programmes, but are also available as options on other degree courses.

Specifically, I lecture / coordinate / supervise students on the following modules:


'Lecture Style' Modules

CENV6088 Transportation Planning: Policies and Methods

This module introduces students to the aims and history of transport planning and to the 4-stage demand model which is commonly used to quantify the impacts of transport policies.


CENV6153 Transport Modelling

This module covers a range of different transport modelling approaches and packages ranging from macroscopic models to predict overall travel demand, to microscopic models of individual vehicle-vehicle interactions.


CENV6109 Transportation Engineering: Transport Management 

My lectures on this module focus on modelling the detailed interactions between vehicles and road infrastructure and how countless small interactions lead to the top level issues of flow and congestion.


CENV6124 Transport Data Analysis and Techniques

This is the statistical methods module for the MSc Transportation Planning and Engineering degree. The techniques covered here underpin much of the analysis necessary to complete the remainder of the topics on the course, including the dissertation project.


CENV6162 Water Resources Planning and Management

Little to do with transport where most of my other teaching is, instead using my background in constrained optimisation problems to teach civil and environmental engineering students about applying optimisation techniques to water management topics.


'Project Style' Modules

FEEG3003 Individual Project

This is the individual project module undertaken by BEng and MEng Civil Engineering students in their third year. Topics that I have supervised have included....

  • Agent based route choice models
  • Determining travel patterns through passive BlueTooth monitoring
  • Distributed architectures for traffic information systems
  • Global pedestrian positioning systems
  • Privacy impacts of future Intelligent Transport Systems


FEEG6012 MSc Research Project

This is the summer dissertation project module for MSc students, for which I am the coordinator for students studying Transportation Planning and Engineering. Student topics that I have directly supervised have included....

  • Adapting American activity based travel models for use in the UK
  • Cluster analysis of traffic patterns
  • Estimating reliability from highway assignment model outputs
  • GPS positioning and map matching for pedestrian applications
  • Impacts of social media on Olympic Games travel patterns
  • Park and ride: Does location affect patronage?
  • Potential economic consequences of model non-convergence
  • Microscopic motorway modelling
  • Modelling the Swindon ‘magic' roundabout
  • Simulation of parking search behaviour
  • Tourist shopping trip generation patterns in southwest England
  • Using transport model data for air quality assessments

(Topics being undertaken by my research students are included under the PhD/EngD tab above)

I currently supervise a number of doctoral research students (Ph.D and Eng.D) across the full range of my research interests.

The following are my current/previous research students and their topics that I supervise/co-supervise.

If you are interested in studying for a PhD or EngD in any aspect of my research then please contact me to discuss possibilities.


Andrew Hamilton

Optimising traffic movements in an urban environment

EngD. in collaboration with Siemens

This research project is investigating the potential improvements in traffic signal control systems that can be enabled by utilising improved data sources, focussing specifically on the benefits of knowing in advance the turning intention of every vehicle as it approaches either an isolated junction or series of connected junctions.


Anthony Velazquez

Reducing the carbon footprint in the food supply chain collaboration with Martin Brower

This research is investigating the ways in which adopting various alternative fleet technologies could positively contribute to decarbonizing the food logistics supply chain, through undertaking economic and technological appraisals to determine the optimal combination of low carbon alternatives for more efficient fleet operation.


Ben Norton

Sustainable ‘take-back' logistics for the charity sector

PhD. in collaboration with Oxfam

Oxfam operates a complex logistics operation servicing its UK stores and bring-banks. This enables the charity to transport goods between its stores for re-sale and take-back low-grade clothing to its sortation facility in Huddersfield for separation and onward processing. This research aims to help reduce the annual transport cost of these operations through optimising the use of the current regional and local transport fleets and improving donation bank performance through informed bank placement techniques.


Candice Howarth

Road traveller behavioural responses to environmental information

PhD supported by the MESSAGE project

26% of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions come from the transport sector, of which road transport contributes 84%, leading to global climate change. As well as economic and technological approaches, schemes focussed around attitudinal and behavioural changes (related to road travel) are important to achieve both immediate and long-lasting benefits. This research therefore explores reasons for unsustainable travel behaviour and investigates the impact of increasing awareness and applying tailored information to individuals in order to encourage sustainable travel behaviour.


Chris Charles

Optimising urban parking operations


The imperfect interactions between parking supply (spaces and costs), parking demand (durations) and parking behaviour (searching) create inefficiencies in the system that lead to traffic congestion, economic costs, increased pollutant emissions and increased frustration amongst drivers. This research is therefore considering the practical, environmental and economic consequences of operating air travel style pre-booking systems for private car-parking in urban areas.


Chris Osowski

Developing levels of service for non-motorised flows

PhD. in collaboration with the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation

The concept of ‘Level of Service' is often used to analyse roads by dividing traffic flows into bands which correspond to different driving conditions. While Level of Service is commonly applied to motorised transport however there has been far less research into equivalent bands for either cycle dominated or mixed pedestrian/cycle flows, with cycles often simply being considered as a small car and this research therefore seeks to develop better models of non-motorised flows and identify corresponding levels of service.


Farah Alkhalisi

Electric vehicle drivers and their use of digital media


Transport users, cyclists and walkers are increasingly using digital technologies such as social media platforms, smartphone apps and crowd-sourced databases to overcome infrastructural shortfalls; for car-sharing; and for intermodal transport. Little is known, however, about the extent to which electric vehicle drivers could be similarly using digital resources related to, for example, location of public charging points; scheduling and remote monitoring of their cars' charging; or technical data and information-sharing. This research therefore attempts to understand the relationships between electric vehicle drivers and digital media.


Gavin Bailey

Investigating alternative supply chain strategies for Great Ormond Street Hospital

EngD. in collaboration with Transport for London and Great Ormond Street Hospital

This research involves the assessment of current NHS logistics practices for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. The work involves evaluating a number of different strategies to improve the internal and external operation of hospital supply chain activities, with a key research focus being reducing the number of vehicles making deliveries during day-time hours.


James Hammond

Interactive learning environments to improve child road safety

EngD. in collaboration with Hampshire County Council

This research aims to assess the effectiveness of computer based interactive learning environments in aiding road safety amongst young children. The intention is to develop interactive learning environments to form part of an interactive training package complementing the volunteer contact time which forms a key feature of current pedestrian training schemes.


James Snowdon

Understanding the role of driver experience and its impact on en-route diversion choices

PhD. in collaboration with the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation

While traditional, aggregate techniques for transportation demand forecasting are capable of providing a single impression of road network usage, the consideration of individual traveller's decisions allows for varying levels of experience and the presence of more plausible decision rules to be explored along with their impact on traffic flows. This research focuses on determining and modelling driver routing reactions to incidents and unexpected congestion using a combination of information gathered within day, such as from variable message signs or the observed presence of congestion, and past experiences of the road network in previous trips.


Joshua Price

Human Factors in the Design of Traffic Management Systems

EngD. in collaboration with Siemens

This research aims to investigate the potential benefits a human factors design approach can have when applied to the development of the next generation of traffic management systems. Design techniques including ecological interface design and user centred design will be used to create a new design framework from which the next generation of traffic management system interfaces can be created. 


Nicolas Rincon Garcia

Time-Dependent Vehicle Routing Problems for Flexible Logistics

PhD. supported by the Government of Colombia

The vehicle routing problem is one of the most widely studied theoretical problems in logistics. The basic formulation however is almost never applicable in reality and therefore over the years many variations have been proposed. Unfortunately, despite this attempt to make theory better reflect reality, theoretical models are often poorly suited to especially smaller or atypical logistics operations as they do not reflect the real constraints imposed by unpredictable real life scenarios. This research therefore seeks to develop improved implementations and better use of existing algorithms.


Oliver Laslett

Modelling the coevolution of land use and transport

PhD. in collaboration with the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation

The impact of land use on transport systems is a part of traditional transport demand models, with changes in land use being reflected as changes in levels of trip generation. More recently, the growing awareness of the impact of poor transport systems on accessibility and the need to more robustly quantify the wider benefits of transport system improvement schemes (e.g. faster rail connections between cities) has led to increased understanding of the impacts that good and poor transport systems can have on the attractiveness of surrounding land. This research therefore seeks to close the circle, to create a unified model linking both the impact of land use on transport and of transport on land use.


Scott Cruickshanks

Will privacy concerns be a barrier to the uptake of cooperative transport systems?

PhD. supported by the NEARCTIS project

While demonstrable benefits exist from increased levels of cooperation between transport infrastructure, vehicle systems and individual travellers, there is also the potential for such systems to be perceived as an invasion of personal privacy. This research aims to quantify perceptions of collaborative systems (across the European Union) in terms of whether people feel that the loss of privacy is outweighed by the gains received in return.


Shiaw Yin Yong

Investigating drivers' behaviour at intersections at the end of green time

PhD. supported by the Government of Brunei Darussalem

The behaviour of drivers when approaching a signal controlled intersection at the end of the green period (i.e. when the traffic signal turns to yellow/amber) is often referred to as the dilemma zone. Traditionally predictions of driver stop/go decisions within the dilemma zone are based on simplistic assumptions about vehicle speed and position, but this research aims to expand models to improve predictive accuracy.


Yok Hoe Yap

Modelling roundabout capacities

PhD. supported by the Government of Brunei Darussalem

The capacities of roundabouts are often determined using empirical relationships which predict entry capacity based primarily on geometry and circulating flows. This research aims to investigate the impact of additional factors which may have significant impact on roundabout capacities, especially related to multilane entries.

Dr Ben Waterson
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

Room Number : 176/4051

Facsimile: (023) 8059 3152

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