Study of Standing Passenger Density in Subway Cars Based on Passengers’ Spatial Comfort: Case Study of Beijing Subway Line 4

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, infrastructure - vehicle, operations - capacity, operations - crowding, ridership - behaviour


subway, standing passenger density, passengers’ spatial comfort


The standard for standing passenger density in subway cars greatly influences passenger congestion during operation and therefore affects passengers’ spatial comfort and safety. However, in China during the subway planning and design stage, passengers’ spatial comfort is rarely considered when the standard for standing passenger density is determined for new subway lines. Furthermore, methods for evaluating passengers’ spatial comfort by standing passenger density are lacking. In this study, results from field investigations of passenger flow characteristics and passengers’ spatial requirements and distributions in subway cars of Line 4 of the Beijing subway led to use of the bubble theory of individual space for developing a classification for the individual space of Chinese standing passengers. Results of an analysis of passengers’ behavior when they are on board the subway car were used to develop a model of interactions of standing passengers’ individual space in a subway car by using the discrete element method. In this model, each passenger’s individual space was considered as a discrete particle. This model was used to evaluate quantitatively passengers’ spatial comfort by standing passenger density through a dynamic computer simulation. The simulation results suggest that the standard for standing passenger density in subway cars should be 4.0 to 5.0 passengers per square meter when new subway lines are being planning and designed.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.