Author: Xu, Yingying
Title: Uncovering the characteristics of urban rail transit networks in China
Advisors: Chen, Anthony (CEE)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2023
Subject: Local transit -- China
Street-railroads -- China
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Pages: xiv, 61 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: This thesis comprises three essays on urban rail transit (URT or metro) systems, focusing on the characteristics of URT networks in China from different levels.
The first essay focuses on the network analysis of URT systems nationwide that analyzes the development of URT networks in China. First, the comprehensive dynamics of China's rapid URT network development are investigated by conducting a longitudinal analysis of the topological evolution and dynamics of the metro networks in 38 cities in mainland China using the latest URT development plans. Then, based on graph theory, several topological indicators are adopted to describe the mathematical characteristics of these metro networks. The longitudinal analysis reveals five phases and two modes of development patterns. The five phases are classified according to the URT development process and network scale: most metro networks in mainland China are predicted to be in their final two phases of development by 2025, whereas some networks that opened after 2017 remain in their first two phases of development. The two modes represent different development trends of metro networks, with all metro networks alternating between mode 1 (expansion) and mode 2 (connection). These findings reveal the principles guiding the development of China's municipal metro networks, which follow the national plans of the central government.
The second essay focuses on the structural analysis of the URT network at the city level that analyzes the schematic maps of URT systems. Official schematic maps are mainly octo-linear in design. However, there is a lack of scientific support in the psychological literature for octo-linearity being the gold standard for map design (Roberts et al., 2013, 2017). Therefore, this essay explores the concentric circle (CC) map, an alternative schematic map design that comprises CCs (ring lines) with lines radiating from the center (radial lines). Compared with traditional octo-linear maps, CC maps simplify the perception of a network by visually accenting circular line patterns. CC design also offers new insights into the schematic drawing of metro systems that can improve map readability and engagement, as the ring-radial structure matches the layout of many Chinese cities. Thus, two methods are proposed for drawing CC maps. The first method is based on mixed-integer programming, where the design criteria are modeled as the objective and constraints. The second method involves providing technical interactive drawing tools for designers to aid their CC map design. Numerical experiments are conducted using real-world URT networks to analyze the applicability of these methods, which reveals that both methods enable the rapid generation of CC maps. Moreover, they allow parameter settings to be adjusted and thus exhibit some flexibility.
The last essay focuses on the station level analysis that evaluate the walking environment around URT stations, as walking is an important public transport mode and these environments are highly influential on residents' travel behavior. This essay therefore examines various walking environments around different types of Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station areas in Hong Kong with a three-dimensional pedestrian network dataset, which capture details of the walking environments. The capability approach of Sen (1985) is adopted to describe the different capabilities of typical pedestrians, the elderly, and wheelchair users and thereby effectively design the planned catchment areas of URT to maximize their accessibility. The results show that there are significant differences between the planned and actual catchment areas, and between the transport choices of people with and without physical limitations. Thus, this approach provides a quantitative method of accurately assessing the pedestrian infrastructure in metro station areas and recommending improvements to realize inclusive walkability designs in cities.
Overall, this thesis explores URT networks from three levels: national level, city level, and station level that analyze the network topologies, schematic maps, and adjoining walking environments respectively. Further areas of study for each topic and potential combinations of different topics are also discussed, providing new insights into the design and functionality of URT networks.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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