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Spatial Network Analysis for Multimodal Urban Transport Systems (SNAMUTS)


Research Team: Prof Carey Curtis (leader), Dr Jan Scheurer, Kristen Bell, Oscar Thomson, David Robertson, Sevilla Furness-Holland.

SNAMUTS is an accessibility planning and decision-making support tool. It is GIS-based and assesses the performance of public transport networks in their urban or regional settlement context. It has been applied to a total of 26 developed cities across four continents.

The tool enables researchers, transport agencies, consultancies and interested members of the public to assess the interplay between public transport network configurations, performance and service standards and the geographical distribution or clustering of land use activities across a metropolitan area. SNAMUTS determines the level of metropolitan accessibility performance from a user perspective and accepts that different users value different aspects of accessibility according to their specific movement and utility needs. Accessibility thus becomes a multi-faceted inquiry, reflecting a multitude of overlapping challenges concerning the integration of land use and transport planning. The SNAMUTS analysis is based on a set of tasks and measurements that highlight the contribution of public transport network and service levels towards these goals from a range of perspectives:

  • How many public transport services are required to achieve an optimal level of accessibility across the network, noting that resources may be limited?
  • What is the ease of movement offered on public transport across the city and for each route? Fast and/or frequent services reduce ‘spatial resistance’ to the user compared to slow and/or infrequent services.
  • What is the transfer intensity of the network? While transfers are a necessary component of an integrated public transport network, is there a way of measuring whether their occurrence may be excessive or underdeveloped?
  • What is the percentage of residents and employees within walking-distance to public transport services off a standard that allows for both planned and spontaneous trip making across most hours of the day, seven days a week?
  • How large an area can people reach using public transport journey within a particular time frame, and how many destinations are located within this range?
  • How does the public transport network channel, concentrate and disperse the travel opportunities generated by the interplay of land uses and the transport system? And where on the network do these effects result in a potential mismatch between public transport supply and potential demand?
  • How well is each activity centre connected in order to attract stopovers on public transport chain journeys and encourage land use intensification that capitalises on such flows of people?
  • How can the results of these indicators be calibrated to arrive at a comparative scale for public transport accessibility between different cities and within one city over a time line?

Research around SNAMUTS has been used to support government decision making on sustainable transport systems and re-structuring of urban form to support public transport systems. To date the tool has been used by state and local government planning agencies in Perth and Melbourne, and during interactive stakeholder workshops in Adelaide, Göteborg, Hamburg and Helsinki. In these practical applications, the focus is on the elaboration of future scenarios for public transport network development and urban growth, whose effects on accessibility can be quantified and visualised through a set of 10 SNAMUTS indicators.


SNAMUTS Applications in Planning Practice

City of Port Phillip, Melbourne, Victoria – September 2015

This research explores the implications on public transport network performance and land use-transport integration of a range of proposed tram service and infrastructure improvements within and affecting the City of Port Phillip. These improvements are currently under consideration by local and state government agencies. Their appraisal in this report is intended to assist the City of Port Phillip in effective advocacy and Public Transport Victoria in prioritising actions. Using the Spatial Network Analysis for Multimodal Urban Transport Systems (SNAMUTS) tool co-developed at RMIT University and Curtin University, the current level of public transport accessibility in metropolitan Melbourne and the City of Port Phillip is examined, based on the existing network and services (correct at February 2015). The ‘Status Quo’ or baseline case is also based on the mix of land uses derived from the 2011 census.

City of Perth, Western Australia – July 2015

The City of Perth (the City) is currently developing and Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS) which will establish Council’s long term transport goals and provide a strategic, informed platform for future decision making. In developing this long term strategy the City wish to develop a research evidence-based understanding of the accessibility provided by the public transport network in Perth. The purpose of this research is to apply the Spatial Network Analysis for Multimodal Urban Transport Systems (SNAMUTS) interactive decision tool to assist in examining the performance of the land use and public transport network in order to inform the development of the City of Perth’s Integrated Transport Strategy. Accessibility is measured at 2015 and for three scenarios: 2031 no action; 2031 public transport committed projects; 2050 accessibility optimisation.
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City of Gotebörg, Sweden – October 2014

The purpose of this pilot project is to test the application of the Spatial Network Analysis for Multimodal Urban Transport Systems (SNAMUTS) interactive accessibility tool to assist in examining the performance of the current and future public transport network and land use structure in Göteborg. This research was conducted as part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery project (DP110104884) and the COST TU1002 project – Accessibility Instruments in Planning Practice. One of the primary objectives of the ARC research is to develop the interactive decision tool (SNAMUTS) in order to assist in examining current and future scenarios for land use and public transport framed around the accessibility of the transport network and the accessibility of place. A second objective is to expand the relevance of SNAMUTS in planning practice and decision support by testing the tool in practice situations. The Göteborg project served these purposes.

Adelaide, South Australia – May 2013

The research team conducted a two day workshop in Adelaide as part of the EU COST Action TU1002 . The objective of the workshop was twofold:

  • To test the speed and responsiveness of SNAMUTS in addressing practitioner generated planning questions
  • To test the use and useability of the tool from the practitioner perspective.

Day one of the workshop comprised a presentation on the current accessibility of Adelaide followed by the generation of planning questions to test. Day one presentation [PDF 4.5 MB]

Day two comprised the response to these questions focussing on a scenario for 2040 for urban development and transport infrastructure. Day two presentation [PDF 5.1 MB]

Our thanks to Prof. Michael Taylor for hosting this event. The workshop was attended by representatives from practice (state and local government, local consultancies) and local researchers – we thank them for their enthusiastic participation and feedback.

Greater Metropolitan Perth, Western Australia – December 2009

The purpose of this research is to apply the Spatial Network Analysis for Multimodal Urban Transport Systems (SNAMUTS) interactive decision tool to assist in examining the performance of the Greater Perth Metropolitan region’s current public transport network framed around the accessibility of the transport network and accessibility of place and the implications for accessibility resulting future development scenarios to 2029.

Greater Metropolitan Perth – Network City Activity Centres, Western Australia – April 2008

The primary objective of the research project was to develop an interactive decision tool (SNAMUTS) to assist in examining scenarios for the future growth of the Perth metropolitan area in activity centres framed around the accessibility of the transport network and the accessibility of place. The SNAMUTS tool enables the quantification of the effect of transport infrastructure improvements and modifications, and of land use intensification, on the accessibility of activity centres and corridors by different modes of transport. The SNAMUTS tool provides an in-depth examination of the potential accessibility by public transport to all centres across the metropolitan area.



Curtis C, Scheurer J (2016) Planning for Public Transport Accessibility, Ashgate: Aldershot [ISBN 978-1-4724-4724-1]

Curtis C and Scheurer J (accepted for publication 10 March 2015 – scheduled for publication January 2017 – ‘in press’ September 2015) Performance Measures for Public Transport Accessibility: learning from international practice, Journal of Transport and Land Use

Scheurer J, Curtis C (2015) The impact of political changes on public transport accessibility in Melbourne, 2008-2014. 7th State of Australian Cities Conference, Gold Coast (QLD), 9-11 December 2015

Scheurer J, Townsend C, Curtis C (2015) Vancouver, the transit-oriented city? The correspondence (or not) of public transit supply, accessibility and urban intensification through the lens of accessibility tools. 29th AESOP Congress, Praha, Czech Republic, 13-16 July 2015

Scheurer J (2015) The geographies of public transport accessibility: A stakeholder conversation. Institute of Australasian Geographers, Workshop of the Urban Geography Study Group, Melbourne (VIC), 27 March 2015

Scheurer J, Curtis C (2014) Achieving a ‘complete’ range of public transport modes in developed cities: Governance implications and accessibility outcomes. COST/CITTA Joint Conference, Oporto, Portugal, 23-24 October 2014

Stone J, Scheurer J (2014) Building Confidence in the Future of Melbourne’s Transport Systems. Chapter 4.1 in Whitzman C, Gleeson B, Sheko A (2014, Eds) Melbourne: What Next? Research Monograph No 1, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne, Melbourne (VIC)

Curtis C, Scheurer J (2014) Delivering best practice in public transport and land use integration: what Australian cities can learn from international practice, World Society for Transport Land Use Research Conference 2014, Delft, Netherlands, 24 -27 June 2014.

Scheurer J, Curtis C, Bell K (2014) Public Transport Network Design, Urban Geography and Accessibility Outcomes: Understanding the Patterns, 28th AESOP Congress, Utrecht, Netherlands, 8 -12 July 2014.

Curtis C, Scheurer J, Burke M (2013) Using Accessibility Tools to Guide Policy Innovation. Built Environment, Vol 39, No 4, pp 454-472

Bell K, Scheurer J (2013) Improving Accessibility in Growing Australian Cities. 6th State of Australian Cities Conference, Sydney (NSW), November 2013

Scheurer J (2013) Measuring Copenhagen’s public transport accessibility and network performance in a European context. Trafikdage på Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg, Denmark, August 2013

Scheurer J and Curtis C (2013) Public transport accessibility in European and North American cities – a shared pursuit of best practice? AESOP/ACSP Conference, Dublin, July 2013

Scheurer J (2013) How do european cities manage public transport and land use integration? (PDF)

Curtis C (2013) Integrating Land Use with Public Transport: The Use of a Discursive Accessibility Tool to Inform Metropolitan Spatial Planning in Perth, Chapter in te Brommelstroet M, Bertolini L (2013, eds) Transport Models in Urban Planning Practices: Tensions and Opportunities in a Changing Planning Context, Routledge

Burke M, Curtis C, Stone J (2013) New analysis for a new synthesis, Chapter 9 in Low N (2013, ed) Transforming Urban Transport: The ethics, politics and practices of sustainable mobility, Earthscan – Routledge: Abingdon

Scheurer J, Curtis C (2012) How to Benchmark Public Transport Accessibility in European Cities. 26th AESOP Congress, Ankara, Turkey, July 2012

Curtis C, Scheurer J (2012) Benchmarking public transport accessibility in Australasian cities, 35th Australasian Transport Research Forum 2012, Perth, 26-28 September 2012.

Scheurer J, Woodcock I (2011) Transforming Melbourne through Transit Oriented Intensification: Implications for public transport network performance, accessibility and development densities. 5th State of Australian Cities Conference, Melbourne (VIC), November/December 2011

Curtis C (2011) Integrating land use with public transport: The use of a discursive accessibility tool to inform metropolitan spatial planning in Perth. Transport Reviews, Vol. 31 Issue 2, pp. 179-197.

Loewa S, Scheurer J (2011) Airport Access by Public Transport in Hamburg: Does Demand Follow Supply? World Planning Schools Congress, Perth (WA), July 2011

Scheurer J (2010) Benchmarking Accessibility and Public Transport Network Performance in Copenhagen and Perth. 33rd Australasian Transport Research Forum (ATRF), Canberra (ACT), September 2010

Curtis C and Scheurer J (2010) Planning for Sustainable Accessibility: Developing tools to aid discussion and decision-making. Progress in Planning Vol 74 (2010), pp.53-106

Scheurer J (2009) Public Transport and Land Use Integration in Melbourne and Hamburg: Can Comparative Network Performance Provide a Sense of Future Direction? 4th State of Australian Cities Conference, Perth (WA), November 2009 [Peter Harrison Memorial Prize, Open Category]

Scheurer J (2008) Discursive Modelling for Land Use-Transport Integration: An Explorative Case Study from Perth, Western Australia. ACSP/AESOP Congress, Chicago (IL), USA, July 2008

Scheurer J, Curtis C, Porta S (2007) Spatial Network Analysis of Public Transport Systems: Developing a Strategic Planning Tool to Assess the Congruence of Movement and Urban Structure in Australian Cities. 30th Australasian Transport Research Forum (ATRF), Melbourne, September 2007