Modelling the public transport capacity constraints’ impact on passenger path choices in transit assignment models


  • Arkadiusz Drabicki Cracow University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Department of Transportation Systems, Cracow, Poland Author
  • Rafał Kucharski Cracow University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Department of Transportation Systems, Cracow, Poland Author
  • Andrzej Szarata Cracow University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Department of Transportation Systems, Cracow, Poland Author



public transport, congestion public transport, passenger congestion, public transport capacity, overcrowding, crowding discomfort, path choice


The objective of this paper is to discuss the replication of passenger congestion (overcrowding) effects on output path choices in public transport assignment models. Based on a comprehensive literature review, the impact of passenger overcrowding effects was summarised in 3 main categories: the inclusion of physical capacity constraints (limits); the feedback effect between transport demand and supply performance; and the feedback effect on travel cost (discomfort penalty). Further on, sample case studies are presented, which prove that the inclusion of capacity constraints might significantly influence the assignment output and overall results in public transport projects’ assessment – yet most state-of-the-practice assignment models would either miss or neglect these overcrowding-induced phenomena. In a classical 4-step demand model, their impact on passengers’ travelling strategies is often limited to path (route) choice stage, while in reality they also have far-reaching implications for modal choices, temporal choices and long-term demand adaptation processes. This notion has been investigated in numerous research works, leading to different assignment approaches to account for impact of public transport capacity constraints – a simplified, implicit approach (implemented in macroscopic-based models, e.g. PTV VISUM), and a more complex, explicit approach (incorporated in mesoscopic-based models, e.g. BusMezzo). In the simulation part of this paper, sample tests performed on a small-scale network aim to provide a general comparison between these two approaches and arising differences in the assignment output. The implicit approach reveals some differences in assignment output once network capacity constraints are accounted for – though in a simplified manner, and producing somewhat ambiguous output (e.g. in higher congestion scenarios). The explicit approach provides a more accurate representation of overcrowding-induced phenomena - especially the evolving demand-supply interactions in the event of arising congestion in the public transport network. Further studies should involve tests on a city-scale, multimodal transport model, as well as empirical model validation, in order to fully assess the effectiveness of these distinct assignment approaches.


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Original articles

How to Cite

Drabicki, A., Kucharski, R., & Szarata, A. (2017). Modelling the public transport capacity constraints’ impact on passenger path choices in transit assignment models. Archives of Transport, 43(3), 7-28.


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