Public transport crowding: the current state of forecasting techniques in the UK and Australia

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - rail, operations - crowding, place - australasia, place - europe, ridership - behaviour, ridership - perceptions


crowding, passenger perception, modelling, behaviour


While congestion on the roads has been part of established modelling and forecasting practice for many decades, public transport crowding has only been incorporated in modelling techniques in Europe for about 20 years and in some parts of the world it is only now being implemented. In London, crowded assignment algorithms have been used in the LTS and RAILPLAN models since 1989. Although some modifications have been made over the years, the underlying techniques have remained unchanged for two decades. However, TfL is now experimenting with capacity constrained assignment methods that represent crowding not only via an in-vehicle time penalty but also through modification of effective frequencies to represent the actual lengthening of headways in crowded conditions. Elsewhere in the UK, crowded assignment is an established part of urban public transport models in most major conurbations, and it is also used in inter-urban rail models such as PLANET. Crowded assignment is also used extensively in the US and Canada, as well as continental Europe. In Australia, by contrast, the practice or crowded public transport assignment modelling is only now being considered seriously in some major conurbations. Recent studies have been undertaken to consider options for the implementation of crowding in the following metropolitan models: - the Sydney Strategic Transport Model (STM); - the Melbourne Integrated Transport Model (MITM); - the Brisbane Strategic Transport Model - Multi Modal (BSTM-MM); - the Perth Strategic Transport Evaluation Model (STEM); - the Metropolitan Adelaide Strategic Transport Evaluation Model (MASTEM); and - the Canberra Strategic Transport Model (CSTM). Of these, only Sydney and Brisbane have taken significant steps towards implementing crowded public transport assignment. In Brisbane, crowded assignment has been implemented in 2010 as part of the model development for the Cross River Rail project. This project is intended to address the current physical constraints for rail travel into the Central Business District, which are estimated to shortly be at capacity. This paper presents a round-up of the current state of forecasting for public transport crowding in the UK and in Australia. It focuses on the differences in approach adopted for different cities and exposes the challenges faced, including data availability, model validation and economic appraisal results.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by AET, copyright remains with them.