Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Passenger Travel Patterns in Massive Smart Card Data

Juanjuan Zhao, Qiang Qu, Fan Zhang, Chengzhong Xu, Siyuan Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Metro systems have become one of the most important public transit services in cities. It is important to understand individual metro passengers' spatio-temporal travel patterns. More specifically, for a specific passenger: what are the temporal patterns? what are the spatial patterns? is there any relationship between the temporal and spatial patterns? are the passenger's travel patterns normal or special? Answering all these questions can help to improve metro services, such as evacuation policy making and marketing. Given a set of massive smart card data over a long period, how to effectively and systematically identify and understand the travel patterns of individual passengers in terms of space and time is a very challenging task. This paper proposes an effective data-mining procedure to better understand the travel patterns of individual metro passengers in Shenzhen, a modern and big city in China. First, we investigate the travel patterns in individual level and devise the method to retrieve them based on raw smart card transaction data, then use statistical-based and unsupervised clustering-based methods, to understand the hidden regularities and anomalies of the travel patterns. From a statistical-based point of view, we look into the passenger travel distribution patterns and find out the abnormal passengers based on the empirical knowledge. From unsupervised clustering point of view, we classify passengers in terms of the similarity of their travel patterns. To interpret the group behaviors, we also employ the bus transaction data. Moreover, the abnormal passengers are detected based on the clustering results. At last, we provide case studies and findings to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed scheme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7891954
Pages (from-to)3135-3146
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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