Dynamics on and of subway networks

Camille Roth

Vendredi 2 mars 2012 à 14h, salle 25/26-101


Subway networks shape, to some extent, the structure of movements of individuals across a city; similarly, they are being partially shaped by the presence of these individuals in the city. This talk will present two complementary studies describing the dynamic processes which subway networks both host and undergo. The first analysis focuses on dynamics processes occurring on the subway network of a large city (London) in terms of its commuting patterns. It uses the large scale, real-time electronic ticketing data from the Oyster Card system, introduced less than a decade ago, to reveal a part of the structure and organization of the city. More precisely, this study shows that patterns of intraurban movement are strongly heterogeneous in terms of volume, but not in terms of distance travelled, and that there is a polycentric structure composed of large flows organized around a limited number of activity centers. For smaller flows, the pattern of connections becomes richer and more complex and is not strictly hierarchical since it mixes different levels consisting of different orders of magnitude. The second study investigates the temporal evolution of the major subway networks in the world over the last century. The main result is that most of these networks tend to converge to a shape which shares some generic features, despite their geographical and economical differences. These features include a core with branches radiating from it to cover about twice the average radial extension of the core. The core generally includes about 60% of the network stations and exhibits an average degree of order 2.5. Interestingly, core and branches define two distinct and universal regimes in terms of the number of stations at a given distance from the barycenter. This result which was difficult to interpret in the framework of fractal geometry finds here a natural explanation. More broadly, these two types of studies open the way to more integrated analyses of the coevolution between the dynamics on and of subway networks.