The complexity and robustness of metro networks
Transportation systems, being real-life examples of networks, are particularly interesting to analyze from the viewpoint of the new and rapidly emerging field of network science. Two particular concepts seem to be particularly relevant: scale-free patterns and small-worlds. By looking at 33 metro systems in the world, this paper adapts network science methodologies to the transportation literature, and offers one application to the robustness of metros; here, metro refers to urban rail transit with exclusive right-of-way, whether it is underground, at grade or elevated. We find that most metros are indeed scale-free (with scaling factors ranging from 2.10 to 5.52) and small-worlds; they show atypical behaviors, however, with increasing size. In particular, the presence of transfer-hubs (stations hosting more than three lines) results in relatively large scaling factors. The analysis provides insights/recommendations for increasing the robustness of metro networks. Smaller networks should focus on creating transfer stations, thus generating cycles to offer alternative routes. For larger networks, few stations seem to detain a certain monopole on transferring, it is therefore important to create additional transfers, possibly at the periphery of city centers; the Tokyo system seems to remarkably incorporate these properties.
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Volume (Year): 389 (2010)
Issue (Month): 17 ()
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