Circuity in urban transit networks

Jie Huang, David M. Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the circuity of transit networks and examines auto mode share as a function of circuity and accessibility to better understand the performance of urban transit systems. We first survey transit circuity in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, region in detail, comparing auto and transit trips. This paper finds that circuity can help to explain mode choices of commuters. We then investigate thirty-five additional metropolitan areas in the United States. The results from these areas show that transit circuity exponentially declines as travel time increases. Moreover, we find that the circuity of transit networks is higher than that of road networks, illustrating how transit systems choose to expand their spatial coverage at the expense of directness and efficiency in public transportation networks. This paper performs a regression analysis that suggests the circuity of transportation networks can estimate transit accessibility, which helps to explain mode share.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-153
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Accessibility
  • Circuity
  • Mode share
  • Network efficiency
  • Public transportation
  • Transit networks


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