Planning for the unexpected: The value of reserve capacity for public transport network robustness

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, planning - network design, operations - capacity, operations - performance, ridership - demand, policy


Robustness, Public transport, Disruption, Dynamic assignment, Capacity, Mitigation


Public transport networks (PTN) are subject to recurring service disruptions. Most studies of the robustness of PTN have focused on network topology and considered vulnerability in terms of connectivity reliability. While these studies provide insights on general design principles, there is lack of knowledge concerning the effectiveness of different strategies to reduce the impacts of disruptions. This paper proposes and demonstrates a methodology for evaluating the effectiveness of a strategic increase in capacity on alternative PTN links to mitigate the impact of unexpected network disruptions. The evaluation approach consists of two stages: identifying a set of important links and then for each identified important link, a set of capacity enhancement schemes is evaluated. The proposed method integrates stochastic supply and demand models, dynamic route choice and limited operational capacity. This dynamic agent-based modelling of network performance enables to capture cascading network effects as well as the adaptive redistribution of passenger flows. An application for the rapid PTN of Stockholm, Sweden, demonstrates how the proposed method could be applied to sequentially designed scenarios based on their performance indicators. The method presented in this paper could support policy makers and operators in prioritizing measures to increase network robustness by improving system capacity to absorb unexpected disruptions.


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


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