Network methods enable more efficient, fault-tolerant, and environmentally friendlier transport services


This project harnesses the network theory to serve data-driven understanding of cities, urbanization, and public transport planning.

Network theory enhances understanding of public transportation fluency, effortless route selection and fault-tolerance of the traffic system.

The first purpose of this Academy of Finland funded project is to collect, clean, and modify public transport data for around one hundred cities across the world. In addition, this organized data will be published to enable open access. Moreover, this data will help to understand the function, efficiency, fault-tolerance, and planning of the public transport across the world.

The mathematical features of the network theory are the key tools in this analysis. The advanced network theory has not been used in the transport planning before.

-              In the network theory, the structure and the function of the network are understood as computational tools, as numbers. The network theory is very good for the analysis of large amounts of data and for comparing different systems, states professor Jari Saramäki.

Increasing scale and population of modern cities brings about a range of energy, environmental, and economic challenges. With a steady increase in citizen’s expectations, and a range of mobility services, well planned and managed public transport systems play a crucial role in sustainable future of modern cities.

-        In order to respond to high requirements that our public transport systems are facing, we need a deeper understanding that only an interdisciplinary approach combining network science and transport engineering can provide, states assistant professor Milos Mladenovic.

-        This project produces tools for transport planners and engineers by identifying common traits and patterns in good public transport networks. Improved planning of public transport can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption, as efficient public transport is more climate-friendly, adds Saramäki.

The researchers in this international project are planning to visit the partner universities in France, Sweden, the USA, and Scotland. For example, by exchanging the researcher’s know-how and skills, it is possible to compare in detail journeys on public transport routes from Helsinki to the data from foreign cities.

-        Even the network structure derived from the schedules is an important part of the analysis. Delays are monitored in many cities and by synchronizing the schedules it is to some extent possible to influence on the efficiency of the public transport, states Saramäki. 

-        In the analysis of the public transport network it is essential to model the different means of transport as their own layers. Moreover, we try to consider and integrate even more flexible transport solutions to the conventional public transport systems, adds Rainer Kujala, one of the researchers in the project.

The analysis of the urban public transport networks is a joint international two-year project, with a total budget of around 500,000 e. The project is led by the Professor Jari Saramäki from the Aalto Computer Science Department, in collaboration with the Assistant Professor Milos Mladenovic, from the Aalto Built Environment Department.

More information:

Jari Saramäki
puh. +358 40 525 4285

Assistant Professor
Milos Mladenovic
+358 50 566 0974