Mode boundaries of automated metro and semi-rapid rail in urban transit

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, mode - subway/metro, mode - rail, economics - appraisal/evaluation, economics - benefits


Urban transit, automation, metro, cost


Our research question is to what extent, and under what circumstances, full automation in metro lines defines transit mode boundaries with respect to semi-rapid transit. The modeling approach is based on micro-economic appraisal. Automation, beside changing the investment and operation and maintenance cost profiles of metro lines, can improve some aspects of the user experience. The low marginal cost of frequency possible with automated metro may unlock both users’ benefits via reduced waiting times and crowding, and operator’s savings via shorter trains and smaller platforms and stations. We show how the user’s travel time components are structurally different under several configurations. In particular, we highlight the critical role that different demand and alignment patterns play in the mode comparison.


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