Calibrating a transit assignment model using smart card data in a large-scale multi-modal transit network

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - rail, mode - ferry, place - australasia, technology - ticketing systems, planning - methods


Transit assignment, Smart card, Automatic fare collection system, Model calibration, Particle swarm optimisation, Model validation


This paper describes a practical automated procedure to calibrate and validate a transit assignment model. An optimization method based on particle swarm algorithm is adopted to minimize a defined error term. This error term which is based on the percentage of root mean square error and the mean absolute percent error encompasses deviation of model outputs from observations considering both segment level as well as the mode level and can be applied to a large scale network. This study is based on the frequency-based assignment model using the concept of optimal strategy while any transit assignment model can be used in the proposed methodological framework. Lastly, the model is validated using another weekday data. The proposed methodology uses automatic fare collection (AFC) data to estimate the origin–destination matrix. This study combines data from three sources: the general transit feed specification, AFC, and a strategic transport model from a large-scale multimodal public transport network. The South-East Queensland (SEQ) network in Australia is used as a case study. The AFC system in SEQ has voluminous and high quality data on passenger boardings and alightings across bus, rail and ferry modes. The results indicate that the proposed procedure can successfully develop a multi-modal transit assignment model at a large scale. Higher dispersions are seen for the bus mode, in contrast to rail and ferry modes. Furthermore, a comparison is made between the strategies used by passengers and the generated strategies by the model between each origin and destination to get more insights about the detailed behaviour of the model. Overall, the analysis indicates that the AFC data is a valuable and rich source in calibrating and validating a transit assignment model.


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