John He Taplin—1930–2019

John Taplin

Professor John Taplin, joint founder of the ATRF and distinguished Australian transport economist, died on 17 March, aged 88.

Professor John Harold Eaton Taplin (AM) had a distinguished career spanning more than 40 years as a transport economist in senior leadership roles across the public service and academia. These included Senior Economist, Bureau of Agricultural Economics; Director, Bureau of Transport Economics (1972–1975); Deputy Secretary, Commonwealth Department of Transport (1975–1978); Professor of Transport Economics, University of Tasmania (1979–1982) (and Visiting Professor of Transportation, University of British Columbia); Director-General of Transport, WA (1982–1990); Professor of Transport and Logistics, University of WA (1991–2010) and since then Emeritus Professor, University of WA.

John was awarded the Order of Australia (AM), in recognition of his public service, in 1993.

As Director-General of Transport in WA, he was responsible for the electrification of the Perth suburban railway and the initial investigation of a railway extension to Mandurah, as well as many regional developments and policy changes. His academic research interests included modelling travel choices and demand elasticities, deriving choice elasticities from Marshallian demand elasticities, applying genetic algorithms to optimise selection and scheduling of road projects, improved traffic models and travel behaviour, and the application of artificial intelligence and evolutionary computing methods in transport.

John was also one of the six founders of Australasian Transport Research Forum (ATRF, and Chair of the first Forum in 1975), along with John Knox (then Director-General of Transport, WA), Dr Derek Scrafton (then Director-General of Transport, SA), Pat Pak Poy (South Australia), John Metcalf (Australian Road Research Board) and Norm Fisher (Commonwealth Bureau of Roads).

The John H. Taplin prize, for the best paper delivered at the ATRF, is named in recognition of John's major contribution to the ATRF and Australian transport research and public policy.

John had a PhD from Cornell University (1969) and Master of Agricultural Economics and Bachelor of Arts (Economics) degrees from the University of New England.