PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (1): 108-117.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.01.012

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Rank-size distribution and evolution of passenger and freight flows in the Pearl River Delta

Tao LI1(), Xiaoshu CAO2,3,4,*(), Wenyue YANG3   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Tourism, Guangdong University of Finance & Economics, Guangzhou 510320, China
    2. Institute of Transport Geography and Spatial Planning, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China
    3. Center for Urban & Regional Studies, SunYat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    4. Northwest Land and Resources Research Center, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China
  • Online:2016-01-31 Published:2016-01-31
  • Contact: Xiaoshu CAO;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41501120


Passenger and freight flow distribution and dynamic change are the characteristic index of regional transport patterns. This article analyzes passenger and freight flow rank-size distribution and regional patterns between 1980 and 2010 in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) area using the rank-size distribution theory. The results show that: passenger and freight flow q values were greater than 1, in line with rank-size distribution, but the distribution was more in line with the size of the passenger rank-size distribution. Passenger q value decreased and then increased, showing non-equilibrium-relative equilibrium-disequilibrium evolution characteristics. The q values of freight flow decreased, showing non-equilibrium-relatively balanced evolution characteristics. With regard to the spatial pattern, passenger flow shifted from a single center to multi-centers, with a macro scale “point shaft” and mesa-scale “hub and spoke” regional system. Freight flow showed a long-term pattern of monocytes leading to the macro and mesa scale “hub and spoke” system. Convergence of industrial structure in the PRD, light industry-dominated industrial structure, coupled with the single center (Guangzhou) radial transport network determined the spatial pattern of monocyte freight flow.

Key words: passenger and freight flows, rank-size, Zipf law, regional distribution, Pearl River Delta