Integrating network science and public transport accessibility analysis for comparative assessment

Ding Luo*, Oded Cats, Hans van Lint, Graham Currie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Network science offers powerful concepts and methods for studying complex systems, such as public transport networks. However, many existing studies on complex network analysis of public transport networks were primarily motivated to test network science concepts using real-life networks. Consequently, important properties related to public transport services in these studies have been overlooked. This has led to claims made by transport researchers that these works do not necessarily improve the understanding of system properties and performance. To bridge this gap, this study integrates network science and public transport accessibility analysis for comparative assessment across multiple public transport networks. The primary contribution of this study pertains to developing a method based on network science for computing public transport accessibility measured as the average travel impedance. The travel impedance metric is defined based on the generalized travel cost between stop pairs, containing initial and transfer waiting times, in-vehicle travel times and time-equivalent transfer penalty costs. To perform efficient computation, we propose a new type of weighted graph representation of public transport networks, which explicitly incorporates travel costs that are derived from general transit feed specification (GTFS) data. Besides the methodological contribution, the secondary one of this study consists in performing a comparative assessment of worldwide tram networks' accessibility. The analysis shows insights into how different travel components (e.g., in-vehicle travel times and waiting and transfer times) specifically account for the variance in accessibility across different networks. Additional references for improving the designing and planning of public transport networks can be obtained from such comparative assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102505
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Accessibility
  • Comparative assessment
  • General transit feed specification (GTFS)
  • Network science
  • Public transport
  • Tram networks

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