School of Engineering


Dr Abayomi Modupe examining challenges to bus rapid transit system

Civil Engineer Tackles Bus Rapid Transit Challenges

Civil Engineer Dr Abayomi Modupe received his PhD for research into challenges experienced within Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems.

Modupe’s doctoral thesis, supervised by Professor Johnnie Ben-Edigbe, was titled: Influence of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Mixed-Traffic Capacity Utilisation and its Time Headway Implications. He focused on Cape Town’s MyCiTi BRT corridor R27 as a case study.

‘Abayomi’s research problem centred around BRT systems which have been characterised by fundamental traffic flow parameter anomalies, especially speed changes, with attendant consequences on capacity utilisation, capacity differentials and time headway implications,’ said Ben-Edigbe.

Modupe elaborated: ‘My research developed a novel Level of Capacity Utilisation (LCU) criteria table, hitherto unavailable, that can be used to evaluate the performance or productivity of roadway infrastructure in terms of its capacity to accommodate the movement of vehicles in the presence of physical barriers such as the BRT dedicated lanes.’

This research is significant as road systems are a capital-intensive investment, requiring a thorough schematic framework and structured maintenance programme.

‘To justify road investment, the evaluation of roadway capacity utilisation is required,’ said Modupe. ‘Specifically, the commercial importance of route R27 in Cape Town requires that more people be moved from their origin to destinations of their choice within the corridor. Hence the need to use or maximise capacity fully.

‘The criteria I outline will assist the South African government to establish how well the country’s road infrastructure is being used in terms of road space, and determine whether the capital-intensive investment in its construction has been worthwhile.

The fundamental diagram of traffic flow approach and time headway distribution modelling are also relatively new undertakings in South Africa.’

‘As a transportation and traffic engineering researcher, it is my responsibility to identify problems in my field and offer engineering solutions to them,’ said Modupe. ‘My interest was motivated by the identification of the constraint to traffic flow problems, as well as the capacity utilisation anomalies, caused by the presence of the BRT dedicated lane infrastructure, and for which a solution hadn’t been provided in previous literature.

‘It is important to keep in mind that the findings of the research justified the overarching purpose of introducing BRT systems, which is for the rapid movement of commuters. The emphasis of the research problem, however, was on how well the road space is used in terms of capacity to accommodate more vehicles in the presence of lanes dedicated to BRT. Useful recommendations and suggestions were made for future BRT infrastructure designs.’

Modupe’s future plans involve academia, both teaching and research, aimed at solving transportation engineering problems. His goal is to become a Professor of Civil Engineering, with publications in high impact journals his immediate focus.

‘Studying for a PhD in Civil Engineering through UKZN was a golden opportunity for me to experience cutting-edge research, owing to the availability of world-class learning resources and quality research facilities,’ said Modupe. ‘I am happy that my dream was fulfilled.’

Modupe gave credit to God, thanked his supervisor Professor Ben-Edigbe, and acknowledged his wife Oyeyemi and children, David and Daniel, whose unflinching support and sacrifice kept him going through his doctoral journey.

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Supplied