Integrating network science and public transport accessibility analysis for comparative assessment

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - tram/light rail, planning - methods, planning - network design, planning - service improvement


Public transport, Accessibility, Network science, General transit feed specification (GTFS), Comparative assessment, Tram networks


Network science offers powerful concepts and methods for studying complex systems, such as public transport networks. However, many existing studies on complex network analysis of public transport networks were primarily motivated to test network science concepts using real-life networks. Consequently, important properties related to public transport services in these studies have been overlooked. This has led to claims made by transport researchers that these works do not necessarily improve the understanding of system properties and performance. To bridge this gap, this study integrates network science and public transport accessibility analysis for comparative assessment across multiple public transport networks. The primary contribution of this study pertains to developing a method based on network science for computing public transport accessibility measured as the average travel impedance. The travel impedance metric is defined based on the generalized travel cost between stop pairs, containing initial and transfer waiting times, in-vehicle travel times and time-equivalent transfer penalty costs. To perform efficient computation, we propose a new type of weighted graph representation of public transport networks, which explicitly incorporates travel costs that are derived from general transit feed specification (GTFS) data. Besides the methodological contribution, the secondary one of this study consists in performing a comparative assessment of worldwide tram networks' accessibility. The analysis shows insights into how different travel components (e.g., in-vehicle travel times and waiting and transfer times) specifically account for the variance in accessibility across different networks. Additional references for improving the designing and planning of public transport networks can be obtained from such comparative assessments.


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


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