Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor of Transport Demand



+44 (0)20 7594 6089j.polak Website CV




Mrs Maya Mistry +44 (0)20 7594 6100




616Skempton BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





John Polak is Professor of Transport Demand and Director of the Urban Systems Laboratory, Imperial College London and Honorary Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems at South East University in Nanjing. He is also a Director of the ESRC London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Partnership. Prior to establishing the Urban Systems Laboratory in 2016, he was Chairman and Director of the Centre for Transport Studies and Director of Research in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial.

Professor Polak is a mathematician by background with over 30 years experience in transport research, specialising in the areas of mathematical and statistical transport modelling and analysis. He is a member of the Mayor of London’s Smart London Board, a Member of the Department for Transport’s Strategic Roads Reform Expert Group and a member of the British Standards Institute Advisory Committee on Smart Cities Standards. He is a past President of the International Association for Travel Behaviour Research and a past Council Member of the Association for European Transport and a member of a number of TRB Committees and he also serves on the editorial advisory boards of a number of leading international journals. He has served as an advisor to central and local government and industry on a wide range of transport issues, both in the UK and overseas.

Professor Polak has been in the forefront of innovative transport model development in the UK for a number of years and has published extensively on a number of aspects of travel demand modelling, network performance estimation, network control and traffic management and intelligent transport systems. His work has been applied in major projects including the London congestion charging system and London’s traffic management response to the 2012 Olympics. Much of his recent research has been concerned with the collection and analysis of very large scale real-time datasets related to operational, behavioural, attitudinal and environmental aspects of transport and urban systems. Current areas of research include:

  • Smart cities technologies, systems and services
  • Advanced econometric and machine learning models of travel demand
  • New approaches to project and policy investment appraisal and evaluation
  • Applications of machine learning and big data in transport network operations and control
  • Electric mobility and the integration of the transport and power sectors
  • New urban mobility services
  • Vehicle automation and its impact on mobility, network performance and commerce
  • Impact of information and communications technologies on mobility and productivity
  • Urban logistics systems and services

Professor Polak has successfully supervised the research of 30 PhD students, 125 MSc students, 50 MEng students and 32 post doctoral Research Associates. He has published more than 130 peer reviewed journal papers, 280 peer reviewed conference papers, and authored over 80 project reports made direct to commercial and public sector clients. He is one of the most prominent and highly cited transport academics in the UK.

Google Scholar







Le Vine S, Polak J, 2019, The impact of free-floating carsharing on car ownership: Early-stage findings from London, Transport Policy, Vol:75, ISSN:0967-070X, Pages:119-127

Manca F, Sivakumar A, Polak JW, 2019, The effect of social influence and social interactions on the adoption of a new technology: The use of bike sharing in a student population, Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, ISSN:0968-090X

Wu C, Le Vine S, Clark M, et al., 2019, Factors associated with round-trip carsharing frequency and driving-mileage impacts in London, International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, ISSN:1556-8318

Le Vine S, Wu C, Polak J, 2018, A nationwide study of factors associated with household car ownership in China, Iatss Research, Vol:42, ISSN:0386-1112, Pages:128-137

Zhu L, Guo F, Polak JW, et al., 2018, Urban link travel time estimation using traffic states-based data fusion, Iet Intelligent Transport Systems, Vol:12, ISSN:1751-956X, Pages:651-663

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