PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2023, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (3): 491-504.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2023.03.007

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Spatial and temporal characteristics of elderly people’s metro travel behavior and its non-linear relationship with the built environment: A case study of Wuhan City

YANG Hong1(), SHEN Lifan2, HU Yiwen1, ZHANG Yuanhang1, PENG Jiandong1,*()   

  1. 1. School of Urban Design, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
    2. School of Economics and Management, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Beijing 100876, China
  • Received:2022-06-09 Revised:2022-10-09 Online:2023-03-28 Published:2023-03-27
  • Contact: PENG Jiandong;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(52108056)


The increasing aged population poses new challenges to urban transportation, and the provision of age-friendly metro services is an effective measure to cope with population aging. Existing studies have emphasized the influence of the built environment on residents' metro travel behavior. The special physiological characteristics of the elderly make them more easily affected by the built environment, and it is unclear whether the findings of existing studies are applicable to the elderly people. Taking Wuhan City as an example, this study explored the influence of the built environment of the stations on older people's weekday and weekend metro travel behavior based on multi-source big data such as metro smart card data and using a gradient boosting decision tree model in machine learning. The results indicate that: 1) Elderly people's metro travel distance showed a significant increase from weekdays to weekends, but their travel frequency was lower on weekends than on weekdays. 2) The travel length of the elderly was concentrated within 45 minutes. The cross-river travel of elderly was less, and the destination of this group was concentrated in the areas with better public service facilities along the riverfront in the same district, and the travel time showed obvious temporal mismatch with the urban commuting peak. 3) Building floor area ratio and the number of shopping centers were the most important variables, and they showed similar trends on weekdays and weekends. 4) All built environment variables showed significant non-linear effects on elderly's ridership, with the highest effect occurring when the floor area ratio reached 2.0 and the number of shopping centers was 18. 5) Unlike other studies, the effects of density of bus stops and land use mixture on the ridership of the elderly were not significant. The results of the study can help better understand the spatiotemporal characteristics of metro travel for the elderly and the impact of the built environment, which has a very positive effect on coping with population aging.

Key words: elderly travel behavior, built environment, metro, transit ridership, gradient boosting decision tree, Wuhan City