Precise estimation of connections of metro passengers from Smart Card data

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - subway/metro, technology - passenger information, technology - ticketing systems, infrastructure - interchange/transfer, ridership - behaviour


Physical and schedule-based connection estimation, Smart Card data, Metro network, Passenger’s behaviors


The aim of this study is to estimate both the physical and schedule-based connections of metro passengers from their entry and exit times at the gates and the stations, a data set available from Smart Card transactions in a majority of train networks. By examining the Smart Card data, we will observe a set of transit behaviors of metro passengers, which is manifested by the time intervals that identifies the boarding, transferring, or alighting train at a station. The authenticity of the time intervals is ensured by separating a set of passengers whose trip has a unique connection that is predominantly better by all respects than any alternative connection. Since the connections of such passengers, known as reference passengers, can be readily determined and hence their gate times and stations can be used to derive reliable time intervals. To detect an unknown path of a passenger, the proposed method checks, for each alternative connection, if it admits a sequence of boarding, middle train(s), and alighting trains, whose time intervals are all consistent with the gate times and stations of the passenger, a necessary condition of a true connection. Tested on weekly 32 million trips, the proposed method detected unique connections satisfying the necessary condition, which are, therefore, most likely true physical and schedule-based connections in 92.6 and 83.4 %, respectively, of the cases.


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