Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - economies of scale, economics - fare revenue, economics - finance, economics - operating costs, economics - pricing, economics - revenue, economics - willingness to pay, mode - mass transit, mode - rail, operations - capacity, operations - crowding, operations - scheduling, ridership - commuting, ridership - demand, ridership - growth


passenger rail, demand, demand management, mass transit planning, WMATA, MVV, Washington DC, Munich; U-Bahn; Metro


The paper reviews current rail peak demand management approaches in Munich and the Washington DC metropolitan areas, through a practice review approach. Munich and the Washington DC metropolitan area offer two different approaches in the management of rail passenger demand in peak periods and beyond. By reviewing a range of strategies in use and under consideration, a broader picture emerges of the potential options and solutions available. In the Washington DC metropolitan area, the Metro rail system links activity centres in the District of Columbia with suburban jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia. The Metro system, as a late twentieth-century rail network, is seen as a leader for US transit in terms of scale, the quality of network design and planning, and popularity with riders. Lessons drawn from DC Metro on rail demand management approaches are indicative of best-practice in the USA at present. In Munich, the U-Bahn is a new-generation metro-style urban rail network, which is complemented by the more suburban oriented “S-Bahn” - of a longer-distance, more radial-style configuration. Munich’s transport planners are proactive in their tracking of passenger flows and their actioning of a variety of measures that have produced “smooth” passenger flows that avoid the “excessive peaks” of many other major rail systems. This is perhaps partially a contributor to the strong overall financial outcomes for mass transit in Munich. In addition, the network characteristics of the Munich rail systems are notable, in that there are a substantial number of popular destination/origin stations, and the system is not over-reliant on a small number of major inner city stations. From these case study examples of established and emerging practice, suggestions are drawn for strategic options to assist transport agencies and rail operators in addressing peak demand issues through a more managed and structured approach.