Researcher Projects Aim to Revolutionise the Future of Transportation in Ireland

06 April 2022

Two innovative research projects, SUMMIT and TRACT, look to redefine the future of transport in Ireland.

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin, including ADAPT Principle Investigator, Professor Owen Conlan, and funded collaborator, Professor Sam Cromie, are part of two innovative projects set to redefine what the future of Transport in Ireland will look like. The projects, TRAnsport Behaviour CHange Trials (TRACT), and a wider related project SUstainable Mobility Models for a Just Transition (SUMMIT), are dedicated to realizing a future in which transport in Ireland has not only been decarbonised, but also achieves just access, comfort, convenience and efficiency for the people that use it. 

The TRACT project, led by Professor Caulfield, will examine the ability of mobility hubs and nudges to promote the switch to electric vehicles, with the goal of decarbonising the transport sector. The project involves collaborators from Trinity’s Schools of Computer Science and Statistics, and Psychology. FreeNow Ireland, Nissan Ireland, Bleeper, Toyota (YUKO),, Transpoco and Smart Dublin are among the industry partners on the project.

The 2021 Climate action plan sets very ambitious targets to decarbonise the transportation sector. Two of the largest policy tools in the plan are to increase the number of electric vehicles on our roads and to have an extra 500,000 trips per-day by non-car modes. The TRACT project will seek to examine how both of these goals can be achieved using trials of new transport technologies.

Speaking about the work ahead Professor Caulfield said: 

The TRACT project brings together a wide variety of partners and academics from different disciplines to examine methods to decarbonise how we travel and will have two 18-month trials. The first will seek to reduce car trips by promoting the use of active modes, shared cars and public transport. The second trial will seek to promote the transition to electric mobility by examining issues such as range anxiety, charging infrastructure and cost. One of the sectors this trial will focus upon is the electrification of the taxi fleet. FreeNow, a project partner, will promote the smart phone app developed for this project to its over 14,000 taxi drivers.

Fiona Brady, Head of Operations and Public Affairs at FreeNow, said: 

“FREE NOW could not be more delighted to partner with Trinity on this extremely important and innovative project. By taking tangible actions through this work, Prof. Caulfield and his dedicated team have the potential to radically reduce carbon emissions. Decarbonisation of the transport sector is key to a sustainable future for all of us and we are committed to enabling and empowering passengers across the country to make sustainable decisions when it comes to meeting their daily transport requirements.” 

TRACT will take place in the context of the SUMMIT initiative which, as part of Trinity’s E3 (Engineering, Environment, and Emerging Technologies) programme, will balance a citizen-centric view of mobility needs with how emerging technologies can be used to address those needs, to inform the design of a fairer and more sustainable future of transportation. The project will also consider the wider governance structures, policies, and people that will help to create that future. The SUMMIT team includes experts from disciplines including computer science, engineering, geography, business, economics and psychology

Professor Vinny Cahill noted that: 

“While mobility is fundamental to our society, current mobility systems suffer from negative public health, economic and especially climate impacts, for example, due to congestion. It has therefore never been more pertinent to reassess how sustainable mobility should be facilitated. SUMMIT will explore future models of mobility provision and the governance structures, policies and technologies to enable them, providing the evidence base to inform the design of future mobility ecosystems.”

The initiative will generate insights that help create solutions to five major concerns: 

  • slowing climate change
  • ensuring equality of access to mobility
  • supporting a fair transition to new models for transportation
  • enhancing communities
  • supporting economic development

SUMMIT will do this by undertaking multi-disciplinary projects that explore different overlaps, like “understanding what would satisfy individuals’ needs and preferences while shaping demand toward options that serve a common good”, and ‘considering the fair and optimal use of current infrastructure while guaranteeing quality of service…’. 

SUMMIT has already launched five of these multi-disciplinary projects, and has plans to engage with diverse stakeholders to initiate further projects, such as TRACT, that broaden the scope of the research. TRACT, which is co-funded by the Department of Transport, was recently awarded €611,000 for the project from Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). SUMMIT is funded through the generous philanthropic support of Eric & Barbara Kinsella.

To find out more about SEAI’s research funding go to

Trinity researchers working on SUMMIT include: Prof. of Computer Science and Statistics, Vinny Cahill, Prof. of Computer Science and Statistics, Mélanie Bouroche, Assistant, Programme Director for the MSc. Marketing, Sarah Browne, Associate Prof. of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Brian Caulfield, Prof. of Software Systems, Siobhán Clarke, ADAPT strand leader of Digitally Enhanced Engagement & Prof. in Computer Science, Owen Conlan, Assistant Prof. of Psychology and ADAPT Funded Collaborator, Sam Cromie, Prof. of Geography, Anna Davies, Assistant Prof. in the School of Computer Science and Statistics, Ivana Dusparic, Assistant Prof. of Economics, Ronan Lyons, Assistant Prof. in Urban Geography, Cian O’Callaghan, Trinity Fellow, Dr. Martin Sokol.