Watching the Swiss: A network approach to rural and exurban public transport


Tim Petersen

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - rural, planning - network design, operations - scheduling, mode - demand responsive transit, planning - integration


Rural public transport, Network planning, Pulse timetable, Integrated timed-transfer, Taktfahrplan, Demand-responsive


Public transport in rural and exurban areas faces major challenges, with low population densities making it difficult to provide high-quality, high-occupancy services. While demand-responsive transport is sometimes prescribed as an innovative strategy for service provision, the network planning approach to public transport suggests that integrated timed-transfer or pulse timetable networks should be explored first. This paper examines the rural network approach using examples from Switzerland, which has among the highest rates of public transport use in Western Europe, as well as nationally-coordinated Taktfahrplan scheduling that extends deep into rural areas. The basic Swiss pulse timetabling technique is reviewed, along with the application of the approach to a remote rural case study in Graubünden’s Lower Engadine and Val Müstair. Characteristics of pulse timetable networks and the wider rural network approach are considered, drawing broad lessons for their potential application elsewhere.


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


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