The weakest link: The decline of the surface transportation network

Feng Xie, David Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study explores the economic mechanisms behind the decline of a surface transportation network, based on the assumption that the decline phase is a spontaneous process driven by decentralized decisions of individual travelers and privatized links. A simulation model is developed with a degeneration process by which the weakest link is removed iteratively from the network. Experiments reveal how the economic efficiency of a network evolves during the degeneration process and suggest an "optimal" degenerated network could be derived during the decline phase in terms of maximizing total social welfare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-113
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge Bhanu M. Yerra, whose research work provides a substantial foundation to this study. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0236396. All opinions and errors remain those of the authors.


  • Accessibility
  • Decline
  • Simulation
  • Transportation network
  • Welfare


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