Evolution of public transit modes in a commuter corridor

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - rail, economics - economies of scale, economics - capital costs, economics - operating costs, planning - service rationalisation


Public transit modes, Transportation system evolution, Feeder service, Rail line extension


This paper explores how the selection of public transit modes can be optimized over a planning horizon. This conceptual analysis sacrifices geographic detail in order to better highlight the relations among important factors. First, a set of static models is proposed to identify which type of service, e.g., bus only, rail only, or bus and rail, is the most cost-effective in terms of the average trip cost for given demand. After analyzing essential factors in a long-term planning process, e.g., economies of scale in rail extension and future cost discounting, a dynamic model incorporating such considerations is formulated to optimize the decision over a planning horizon. While analytical solutions can be obtained for some decision variables, the final model is solved with a graphical method by exploring the tradeoffs between the initial and recurring costs. Major findings from this study include: (a) there exists a minimum economic length for a rail line, which can be determined numerically; (b) economies of scale favor large extensions and excess supplied capacity; (c) the rail-only service is largely dominated by the feeder-trunk service, even in the long run.


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


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