Transit in transition: insights into large-scale public transport network redesigns

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


An increasing number of cities are choosing to redesign their public transport networks according to current best practices, adapting to the changes in travel behavior, the operational environment, and the expectations of the public that have emerged over time. While aiming to increase ridership, if successful, these interventions increase both the economic and environmental sustainability of transportation. This redesigning requires balancing trade-offs related to passenger needs while satisfying a range of financial, political, and technical constraints. However, many aspects of redesigns are not yet well understood, including the impact of improved navigability, and the complex interrelations between schedule and network structure. Previous research has focused on the redesign processes, the guiding policies, and the outcomes in travel behavior, while network design principles have attracted little attention. This dissertation focuses on the analysis of realized public transport redesigns and the argumentation for the chosen solution, thus shedding light on the interface between policy and implementation. The dissertation combines document analysis with a diverse set of quantitative methods aiming to exploit the recent surge in open availability of public transport schedule data. Document analysis pinpoints the current state and intended development trajectory of public transport networks. The quantitative methods focusing on network structure, navigability, and level-of-service aspects, enable both longitudinal and comparative research across a diverse set of cities at various stages of public transport network development. Utilizing a set of nine recently redesigned multi-modal public transport networks in the Global North, the linkages between travel-time profiles, schedule structure, and navigability are explored. Results show that redesigns improved day and evening service and the legibility of the system and expanded the frequent service. Results also suggest a trade-off between route directness and navigability in redesigns. Analyses of 24 Nordic intermediate cities reveal a homogeneous view of the desired public transport network, with some differences in emphasis and arguments. This research suggests that future activities should focus on uncovering user preferences related to schedule structure and navigability, and understanding the links between schedule structure and level-of-service. Moreover, future comparative studies focusing on generalized public transport network knowledge are encouraged, considering the wide availability of open schedule data. Practitioners are encouraged to be more nuanced about trade-offs, rather than focusing dominantly on positive effects. Furthermore, the dissertation recommends a wider utilization of network-based measures in planning practice e.g. as quality control when sourcing suitable design approaches of peer cities.
Translated title of the contributionJoukkoliikenne muutoksessa: näkökulmia suuriin linjastouudistuksiin
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Mladenovic, Milos, Supervising Professor
  • Mladenovic, Milos, Thesis Advisor
  • Saramäki, Jari, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0441-7
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0442-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • network overhaul
  • legibility


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