Spatiotemporal variation in travel regularity through transit user profiling

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - rail, technology - passenger information, ridership - behaviour


Public transportation, Regularity, Smart card data, Clustering, Transport dynamics


New smart card datasets are providing new opportunities to explore travel behaviour in much greater depth than anything accomplished hitherto. Part of this quest involves measuring the great array of regular patterns within such data and explaining these relative to less regular patterns which have often been treated in the past as noise. Here we use a simple method called DBSCAN to identify clusters of travel events associated with particular individuals whose behaviour over space and time is captured by smart card data. Our dataset is a sequence of three months of data recording when and where individual travellers start and end rail and bus travel in Greater London. This dataset contains some 640 million transactions during the period of analysis we have chosen and it enables us to begin a search for regularities at the most basic level. We first define measures of regularity in terms of the proportions of events associated with temporal, modal (rail and bus), and service regularity clusters, revealing that the frequency distributions of these clusters follow skewed distributions with different means and variances. The analysis then continues to examine how regularity relative to irregular travel across space, demonstrating high regularities in the origins of trips in the suburbs contrasted with high regularities in the destinations in central London. This analysis sets the agenda for future research into how we capture and measure the differences between regular and irregular travel which we discuss by way of conclusion.


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