Unraveling the Hierarchy of Public Transport Networks

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Hierarchy is regarded as a natural phenomenon of public transport networks (PTN). The imbalanced distribution of passenger flow result in a hierarchical structure of PTN and it is also related to the development of technology and the introduction of new modes. However, there is still a lack of knowledge on how to identify the hierarchical structure of the multi-layer PTN. This study proposes a three-step passenger transfer flow based methodology for separating and ranking the PTN: (1) using passenger journey data to derive transfer flow matrix; (2) applying network representation with Louvain method of community detection to separate the PTN layers; (3) performing ranking method, separating inner-transfer and inter-transfer flow. To demonstrate our method, we use one-month smart card data of The Hague, the Netherlands provided by the PTN operator HTM. Our results show that our method is able to, regardless of the geographic location and the mode of transportation, identify the hierarchy of PTN based on the passenger transfer flow pattern. Temporal attributes are also discussed to illustrate how hierarchy is time-dependent, e.g. with respect to the day of the week and the time of the day. Our method supports public transport (PT) operators during design and optimization of PTN and in determining which sets of higher-level service to prioritize during different time periods.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 IEEE 23rd International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSC)
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-4149-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-4150-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventThe 23rd IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (IEEE ITSC 2020) - Rhodes, Greece
Duration: 20 Sept 202023 Sept 2020

Publication series

Name2020 IEEE 23rd International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems, ITSC 2020


ConferenceThe 23rd IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (IEEE ITSC 2020)
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care

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.


  • public transport network
  • hierarchy
  • community detection
  • data-driven


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