Civil Engineering, University of Toronto

Sustainable Transportation & Land-Use Planning

Professor Nurul Habib's main research focus is 'Sustainable Transportation and Land-Use Planning'. As an engineer, he focusses on planning methodology and qualitative/quantitative evaluation of planning/policy options. He believes that transportation and land-use are intricately related and any planning approach should have to consider the dynamic and cyclic relationship between transportation demand (reflected through transportation system performances) and land-use (resulting urban forms) through appropriate linkage of mobility-accessibility. A proper balance between mobility and accessibility is the key to achieving social, environmental and economic sustainability of our urban systems. While Professor Habib's research focuses on wide varieties of planning applications, he particularly dedicates his research endeavour on measurement aspects of travel demand and transportation and land-use interactions. Recognizing the fact that human behaviour plays a critical role in defining transportation demand, urban form, and transportation system performance, Professor Habib works on bringing knowledge from various disciplines (psychology, geography, economics, computer science and system control) to develop appropriate planning methodology and policy analysis tools that can give realistic prediction and forecasting capacity for short-, medium- and long-term planning exercises.

Followings are the specific sub-areas of research focus that Professor Habib and his research team work at the University of Toronto:

Travel Demand Modelling

Image not available. Professor Nurul Habib is an expert in travel demand modelling. He has been doing extensive research on traditional trip-based modelling, discrete-choice based tour-based modelling and activity-based microsimulation modelling. His research includes the use of the trip-based model for long-term aggregate demand forecasting. the use of the tour-based model for detailed multi-modal demand forecasting for aggregate/disaggregate demand forecasting and activity-based travel demand model for detailed travel demand microsimulation. His research results strongly oppose the approach the use of 'one model to fit all purposes of demand forecasting'. Recognizing the complexities of travel demand and multi-level as well as multi-dimensional uncertainty, Professor Nurul Habib encourages practitioners and planners to understand various assumptions used in demand model formulation and consider those while using model forecasts in the evaluation of alternatives.

This stream of research of Professor Nurul Habib generated a series of individual research activities (projects) focused on developing comprehensive and integrated econometric choice models, parameter estimation and Monte Carlo simulation approaches.

His research group is currently developing a test bed for activity-base travel demand modelling research. The test bed comprises of two distinct modelling frameworks can be used to test and validate any further research and developments on activity-travel behaviour.These includes: A Complete Simulation Model for Activity Travel Demand (SATAS) & A Comprehensive Utility Based System of Travel Option Modelling (CUSTOM). A Model-Free Complete Simulation Model for Activity Travel Demand is under development and named as SATAS: Synthetic Activities and Travel Agendas through Simulation, which follows pure Monte-Carlo simulation of activity generation and scheduling followed by tour-based mode choice and dynamic traffic assignment.

A Comprehensive Discrete-Choice Based Activity-Travel Demand Modelling is also under development and named as CUSTOM: Comprehensive Utility based System of Travel-activity Options Modelling. CUSTOM assumes a comprehensive and unified choice modelling framework for activity-pattern choice, tour choice, sub-tour choice, mode choice, location choice and dynamic traffic assignment. Compared to SATAS, the CUSTOM assumes optimized and well informed activity-travel demand prediction. CUSTOM relies fully on micro-economic principles of demand and supply and capable of evaluating long-term demand forecasting as well as short-term travel demand adaptation processes. Both SATAS and CUSTOM are pivoted on the improvements of TASHA (the activity scheduling model developed for Toronto). TASHA uses pure random draws from observed activity attribute distributions for activity generation and uses deterministic ad-hoc rules to manually create schedules. CUSTOM is developed to overcome these limitations of TASHA that travel demand generation cannot be a pure random process and activity-travel scheduling cannot be deterministic. While TASHA pretends to capture travel behaviour through quick fix and apparently wrong processes, CUSTOM is built on sound behavioural theories of microeconomics, time geography and econometrics.

Land Use and Transportation Interactions Modelling

Professor Nurul Habib's has been working on developing comprehensive modelling framework for land use and transportation interaction modelling. Unlike loosely bound simulation models, Professor Nurul Habib's research involves developing econometric modelling frameworks that can meaningfully capture bi-directional relationships between travel demand, mobility tool ownership, housing choices (location, type, tenure) and eventual changes in urban forms. Professor Nurul Habib's research group has been working on developing forecasting models related to various components of Interacting Land Use, Transportation and Environment modelling framework.

Stated Preference Survey

Professor Nurul Habib's general research interests belong to the area of transportation planning and policy analysis. His specific focus is passenger transportation demand and transportation demand-supply interactions. His research interests also include investigating the role of transportation in regional economies, social welfare and energy demands. I am interested in both macro and microeconomic impacts of transportations. His research objectives are focused to facilitate decision-oriented planning process, where the policy makers can make informed decisions. In case of new and innovative policies/changes, appropriate design of Stated Preference (SP) survey is critical to gain information on policy responses. Informed decisions ensure better management and coordination of economic and socio-demographic growths in a sustainable way.

Applied Econometrics

Professor Nurul Habib has been an expert in using applied econometric techniques for evidence-based analysis. His specific focus is on developing econometric methods including model formulation and estimation technique that fits problems of investigations. As opposed to common approach of defining or changing any problem context to fit into available econometric models, his research focusses on developing appropriate methods that for any specific problem of investigation. His works on econometrics focus on an evidence-based investigation based on real-life data. He works on critical issues such as endogeneity and self-selections in observed data, correlated decisions in our daily choices, etc. by developing innovative econometric model formulations and appropriate parameter estimation techniques.

Choice Modelling and Behaviural Economics

Professor Nurul Habib has been an expert and enthusiast in modelling choice-making behaviour and considering behaviour in decision-making investigation. Choice modelling based on behavioural economics has been the passion and driving force of research and innovations of Professor Habib. Especially, in case of transportation, it is all about choices that make our transportation system work. Our daily choices of activity-travel related options, choice of firms and business entities, etc. are the key defining forces of our economy and urban system. Among many choices, choices made by human subjects are complex because of our differences in information processing capabilities and the social-spatial contexts of our living. The role of psychology, habit, inertia, heterogeneity etc. are dominant, but very difficult to measure quantitatively. Professor Habib works on a wide range of issues related to choice modelling that includes static versus dynamic choices, heterogeneity in choice making, effects of social interactions in choice making and role of endogenous variables in influencing choices. He works in developing both discrete and continuous choice models. He also works on developing joint models of various natures including discrete-continuous, discrete-ordered, ordered-continuous, etc. For developing choice models he uses various behavioural theories including Random Utility Maximization, Random Regret Minimization, Constrained Information Availability, Decision Field Theory etc.

Transport Economics

Professor Nurul Habib's research involves developing state-of-the-art methodology for economic evaluation of transport infrastructure investments, policy interventions, and strategic decision making. His research on random utility maximizing econometric modelling of traveller's choices are capable of estimating accurate monetary equivalents of transportation system performance attributes, e.g. subjective Value of Times, the value of safety improvement, values of service improvement, the value of reliability etc. His research on choice modelling are mainly pivoted on developing accurate techniques for social welfare analysis, social equity analysis and externalities quantification for transportation system changes.

Inter-City Travel Demand, Long-Distance Travel and Air Transportation Demand

Professor Nurul Habib works on developing advanced forecasting methodology of inter-city and long-distance travel demand. His interests and experience includes forecasting ridership/revenue of national carriers, e.g. inter-city rail services, effects of new technologies (e.g. High-Speed Rail) on existing demand patterns between the cities, investigating competitions of different modes and mode combinations in serving intercity passenger movement, forecasting demand for new airports within regional airport system, choice of alternative airports (locations) for long-distance travelling, airport-ground access travel mode competition, etc.

Travel Surveys, Data Collection and Data Integration for Decision Oriented Planning

Professor Nurul Habib works on developing advanced data collection tools combining strategies of RP, SP and Game-based approach to collect unbiased data on choices of human and firms and the factors affecting these choices. He is interested in model driven choice experiment design, integration of visualization and psychological approaches in traditional transportation data collection method and data visualization. This stream of research is currently concentrating on understanding adaptation behaviour of urban residents in the face of the fuel crisis and economic distress. It generates a series of individual research activities related to travel mode choice uncertainty changes in accessibility-mobility-social inclusion, urban infrastructure development project evaluation and regional economics.

Transportation and Society: Elderly population and Vulnerable Population

Professor Nurul Habib's research also involves developing appropriate methodology to evaluate the role of transportation and urban form on social exclusion, social capital, and subjective well-being. He applies discrete the choice model along with other behavioural econometric approaches e.f. Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), Latent Variable Model and integration of qualitative measures into quantitative choice modelling for such investigations. His pioneering research in this are includes travel behaviour analysis of homeless people, quantification of social equity through choice modelling, evaluating elderly mobility need and home choices etc. His students have conducted travel behaviour survey among homeless people in Toronto, which is first of its kind in Canada.His research group also published a series of research investigations daily activity-travel choices, time expenditure choice and home location choices of elderly people in The National Capital Region of Canada.

Sustainable Transportation and Development

Professor Nurul Habib works on policy development and policy evaluation for achieving sustainable transportation system. He concentrates on all three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. His focus is on investigating ways and techniques to enhance integration of transportation and land use in order to achieve sustainability. He is interested in transit and relatively new urban modes (such as car sharing, carpooling) that can enhance transition between heavy auto dependency to more active and transit-oriented urban lifestyle. In addition, he is also interested in social engineering or social marketing approach as well as psychological interruption methods for influencing behavioural modification towards sustainable urban life style.

Market Research and Valuation of Service Attributes

Professor Nurul Habib's research also involves the applications of advanced Stated Preference Surveys and Choice Models (Discrete choice, Continuous choice, Discrete-continuous choice) for investigating market potential, market segmentation, product demand forecasting, valuation of service attributes, market competitions study and economic impact evaluation of alternative strategies. This stream of my research bridges the gap between transportation planning-policy analysis and marketing science. Main objective is to develop customer oriented transportation services for greater influences.

If you are interested to know more about my research, please Contact


Prof. Khandker Nurul Habib
Phone: 416-946-8027
35 St. George St.
Toronto, ON M5S 1A4