Transport network criticality metrics: a comparative analysis and a guideline for selection

Bramka Arga Jafino*, Jan Kwakkel, Alexander Verbraeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
247 Downloads (Pure)


Transport network criticality analysis aims at ranking transport infrastructure elements based on their contribution to the performance of the overall infrastructure network. Despite the wide variety of transport network criticality metrics, little guidance is available on selecting metrics that are fit for the specific purpose of a study. To address this gap, this study reviews, evaluates and compares seventeen criticality metrics. First, we conceptually evaluate these metrics in terms of the functionality of the transport system that the metrics try to represent (either maintaining connectivity, reducing travel cost, or improving accessibility), the underlying ethical principles (either utilitarianism or egalitarianism), and the spatial aggregation considered by the metrics (either network-wide or localised). Next, we empirically compare the metrics by calculating them for eight transport networks. We define the empirical similarity between two metrics as the degree to which they yield similar rankings of infrastructure elements. Pairs of metrics that have high empirical similarity highlight the same set of transport infrastructure elements as critical. We find that empirical similarity is partly dependent on the network’s topology. We also observe that metrics that are conceptually similar do not necessarily have high empirical similarity. Based on the insights from the conceptual and empirical comparison, we propose a five-step guideline for transport authorities and analysts to identify the set of criticality metrics to use which best aligns with the nature of their policy questions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-264
Number of pages24
JournalTransport Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • criticality analysis
  • criticality metrics
  • multi criteria
  • transport interventions prioritisation
  • Transport network


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