Examining circuity of urban transit networks from an equity perspective

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Abstract

Circuity of transit networks, defined as the ratio of network to Euclidean distance traveled from origin to destination stop, has been known to influence travel behavior. In addition to the longer time spent in travel, for networks where fare is based on distance traveled, higher circuity also means higher fare for the same Euclidean distance. This makes circuity relevant from an equity perspective. Using a case study of the urban transit network of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, this study explores the role of transit circuity on the disparity in distance traveled by travelers' income profile and its implications on travel times and costs for networks with distance-based fares. The analysis is based on travel patterns from smart card data for bus, tram, and metro modes, combined with neighborhood level income data. Results reveal that in Amsterdam, the higher the share of high income people living in proximity to a transit stop, the lower the circuity of journeys from the stop, when controlled for the Euclidean distance covered and spatial auto-correlation. The uneven distribution of circuity exacerbates the disparity in distance traveled, and hence fare paid between the income groups. However, the travel time per Euclidean distance favors the low income group, possibly due to the circuitous routes serving these areas being compensated by higher travel speeds. This study highlights the role of transit network design in determining its equity outcomes and emphasizes the importance of considering equity during route and fare planning. The process followed can be adapted to examine equity for other urban networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102980
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Volume91
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Circuity
  • Equity
  • Fare policy
  • Low-income
  • Network efficiency
  • Transit networks

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