Modelling growth principles of metropolitan public transport networks

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - subway/metro, mode - tram/light rail, planning - network design


Network evolution, Public transport, Network topology, Network structure


The development of metropolitan public transport networks often involves choosing between investing in extending radial lines or constructing ring connections. While the former enlarges network coverage the latter enhances network connectivity and reduces the need to perform detours. Moreover, investments might be better directed at increasing the capacity of already existing infrastructure. In this study we address the following question: how do transport networks in metropolitan areas evolve over time and how can we effectively model this growth as function of demand and cost function? The goal of this study is to determine the fundamental relations between population distribution, modal costs on the prevailing network structure and its evolution. The approach taken in this study offers a theoretical contribution to the field of transport network growth by combining principles from several research streams: transport geography, economics of network growth and network science. We propose an iterative investment model network analysis framework. The results of the network growth experiments manifest an overall trend in network growth with an early phase of expansion of the network, followed by a period of intensification manifested in capacity increments and finally adding some links that contribute to its densification. Furthermore, our findings suggest that bus networks include more ring-radial connections than Light Rail Train and Metro networks which are more concentrated on radial connections.


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


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