Analyzing the sustainability performance of public transit

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, policy - sustainable, planning - travel demand management


Public transit sustainability analysis, Transit, Composite sustainability index, Quadruple bottom line approach, Normalization, Monte Carlo analysis, Sustainability assessment tool, Decision support tool


In recent years there have been many advances in understanding how transportation can promote or detract from sustainability. The role of public transit has been established as a critical element in promoting sustainable and vibrant cities. While decision making tools, such as composite indices, have been developed to understand overall urban and transportation sustainability, few tools exist to directly analyze public transit systems based on sustainability criteria.

This paper introduces the Public Transit Sustainable Mobility Analysis Tool (PTSMAT) framework, which uses composite sustainability index techniques along with research into transport sustainability to propose a new transit analysis tool that can be used in both planning/decision making and research contexts. First, this paper reviews definitions of sustainability and sustainable transport, and sustainability analysis tools and relates them back to a legible analytic framework for public transit systems. Next, the PTMSAT framework is introduced along with a description of its data collection, data analysis, and index calculation processes. The application of PTSMAT to decision making and research scenarios is also outlined. A summary of relevant indicators for public transits sustainability and integrates them into the PTSMAT framework using a quadruple bottom line approach. Next, a case study of the framework’s application is provided for the UBC Corridor study in Vancouver, Canada. This case study demonstrates how the tool may be used to inform decision making and planning efforts.


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


Transportation Research Part D Home Page: