Feeder-trunk or direct lines? Economies of density, transfer costs and transit structure in an urban context

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, economics - operating costs, infrastructure - interchange/transfer, ridership - demand, ridership - perceptions, planning - network design, planning - travel demand management


Public transport, Optimal lines structure, Feeder-trunk, Direct lines, Economies of density


A feeder-trunk scheme has been labeled as superior in urban areas due to the presence of economies of density (decreasing average operating cost) along the avenues served by trunk lines. We compare this structure against three types of direct lines structures (no transfers) to serve a stylized public transport network where several flows converge into a main avenue, simultaneously optimizing fleet and vehicle sizes considering both users’ and operators’ costs. The best structure is shown to depend not only on the total passenger volume but also on demand imbalance, demand dispersion in the origins and the length of the trunk line. The region where the feeder-trunk structure dominates depends largely on the value assigned to the pure transfer penalty.


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


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