Measuring, modelling and improving reliability and robustness of urban public transport in a multi-level network context: a passenger perspective


Despite the importance of reliable and robust public transport operations,  this topic is not considered from a full passenger perspective yet in science and practice. This project therefore focuses on measuring, modelling and improving reliability and robustness of the urban public transport network, from a multi-level network, passenger perspective. This means that the impact of disruptions occurring on other network levels (e.g. the regional train network level or hub level) on the urban network are considered, as well as the availability of these network levels as backup function in case of disruptions on the urban network. To summarize: other network levels are incorporated as cause and cure for reliability and robustness on the urban network, as passengers perceive in reality as well.

Scientific challenges

Scientific challenges in this project can be found, amongst others, in the following steps.

  • Definition of measures for passenger reliability and robustness which can empirically be derived based on smartcard data, vehicle location and passenger occupancy data, incorporating passengers’ travel time, comfort and reliability perceptions.
  • Modelling how passenger delays from a certain network level propagate over other public transport network levels, thereby incorporating impacts of delays, crowding and denied boarding.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of different multi-level transfer strategies in case of disruptions on the public transport network.

Societal relevance

This research provides more insight in passenger behaviour in case of disruptions on the public transport networks, especially in relation to transfer behaviour between different network levels. The study enables the quantification of reliability and robustness from the perspective of the passenger, using a perspective integrating the different network levels operated by different public transport operators. The study supports the decision-making process by operators and policy makers, by developing a framework to evaluate costs and benefits of different strategies aiming to improve public transport reliability and robustness.

Menno Yap

Start/end date: 1st April 2016 – 1st April 2020
Daily supervisor: Oded Cats, Niels van Oort
Promotor: Serge Hoogendoorn