, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 1535–1554 | Cite as

Isolating high-priority metro and feeder bus transfers using smart card data

  • De Zhao
  • Wei Wang
  • Amber Woodburn
  • Megan S. Ryerson


Fixed-rail metro (or ‘subway’) infrastructure is generally unable to provide access to all parts of the city grid. Consequently, feeder bus lines are an integral component of urban mass transit systems. While passengers prefer a seamless transfer between these two distinct transportation services, each service’s operations are subject to a different set of factors that contribute to metro-bus transfer delay. Previous attempts to understand transfer delay were limited by the availability of tools to measure the time and cost associated with passengers’ transfer experience. This paper uses data from smart card systems, an emerging technology that automatically collects passenger trip data, to understand transfer delay. The primary objective of this study is to use smart card data to derive a reproducible methodology that isolates high priority transfer points between the metro system and its feeder-bus systems. The paper outlines a methodology to identify transfer transactions in the smart card dataset, estimate bus headways without the aid of geographic location information, estimate three components of the total transfer time (walking time, waiting time, and delay time), and isolate high-priority transfer pairs. The paper uses smart card data from Nanjing, China as a case study. The results isolate eight high priority metro-bus transfer pairs in the Nanjing metro system and finally, offers several targeted measures to improve transfer efficiency.


Smart card Public transit China Transfer 



This research is supported by Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (CXZZ13_0118), the Scientific Research Foundation of Graduate School of Southeast University (YBJJ1457), the key project of National Natural Science Foundation of China (51338003), and Projects of International Cooperation and Exchange of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (5151101143).


Metro-bus transfer transaction

A transfer transaction is a smart card transaction that occurred during the process of a metro-bus transfer. This may be either a metro transaction or a bus transaction.

Metro-bus transfer trip

One transfer trip is comprised of one metro transaction and one subsequent bus transaction. Two smart card transactions are required to identify one metro-bus transfer trip. The transfer trips are identified according to the two ‘recognition’ rules outlined in the methodology section.

Metro-bus transfer pair

One transfer pair is comprised of one metro station ID and one bus line ID.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Urban ITSSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of City and Regional PlanningUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.School of TransportationSoutheast UniversityNanjingChina
  4. 4.Department of Electrical and Systems EngineeringUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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