Performance of urban rail transit: a review of measures and interdependencies

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, mode - rail, literature review - literature review, operations - performance, planning - service quality


Urban rail, quality of service, cost performance, efficiency, public transit


Recent years saw immense growth in performance measurement literature related to public transit systems, with a clear segmentation between financial and quality-of-service performance frameworks. Recently, there has been a shift away from considering cost efficiency alone as a performance measure, and quality-of-service – which influences ridership attraction and retention – has been receiving more interest. The segmentation of these two performance aspects poses a gap in the literature, as there are interdependencies between them. This study provides a systematic review of the methodologies and empirical findings of studies on both performance measurement aspects of urban rail transit systems; specifically, we demonstrate the importance of linking cost efficiency analyses to the level of service quality. To our knowledge, this is the first review of urban rail transit research that links the two performance aspects. We begin by reviewing the methodological limitations of cost performance measures and summarising the drivers of cost performance in the existing literature. We then review studies on the definitions and measurements of quality-of-service in urban rail performance. Lastly, we summarise the scant literature linking the two performance aspects and highlight future study directions, mainly, the importance of a structural framework to provide a holistic view of transit operators’ performance.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.