Identifying transit deserts for low-income commuters in Wuhan Metropolitan Area, China

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, ridership - demand, ridership - commuting, ridership - disadvantage, land use - urban density, land use - planning


Transit deserts, Transit demand, Commuting, Low-income, Wuhan


The rapid expansion of many Chinese cities has put increasing pressure on existing urban transportation systems. Using Baidu users’ location data, this research analyzes the spatial patterns of the transit systems and commuter flows in Wuhan Metropolitan Area, China, and identifies transit deserts affecting low-income commuters. The results show that, first, most transit demand are generated by trips between neighboring communities, while large transit supply tends to occur between distant communities in the region. Second, about 11.21% of low-income commuters are affected by transit deserts in Wuhan Metropolitan Area. In detail, 61.30% of them commute within the city centers and 36.06% of them commute within the suburbs. Only about 2.64% of them actually travel between city centers and suburbs. Third, for low-income suburban commuters, transit deserts occur when they are surrounded by low-density transit infrastructure and low-frequency transit services, which makes it very difficult for them to connect to rest of the region. However, for low-income commuters residing in the city centers, transit deserts are mainly caused by the large numbers of transit-dependent people competing for limited transit supply in the areas. This research explores the relationship between transit systems and commuting demand in a major Chinese metropolitan area. The findings could help guide future transit system planning in China and beyond.


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


Transportation Research Part D Home Page: