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Global Subway Systems Learning Module

Subways are a popular form of public transportation worldwide, given their speed, capacity, and lack of reliance on road infrastructure and conditions. Proponents argue that the ease of movement that subways provide promotes growth, helps sustain urbanization, and reduces pollution by diverting traffic from other forms of transportation. However, subways are expensive to build and maintain, and some argue they can divert city resources away from forms of transportation and infrastructure that better serve low-income populations. With these conflicting effects and differing city priorities, studies of subway systems and growth in metropolitan areas can provide tremendous insight for policy makers and urban planners trying to best serve their cities.

A new dataset from “Subways and Urban Growth: Evidence from Earth” (2018), by Marco Gonzalez-Navarro and Matthew Turner, makes incorporating subways into analyses possible for researchers worldwide by providing a record of all global subway stations with their geographic coordinates, dates of construction, mapped routes, and ridership over time. Now updated through 2017, these thoroughly compiled records are a previously unavailable trove of information.

The Geo4Dev tutorial makes utilizing this novel data accessible to all audiences regardless of technical ability, demonstrating all code required to import the subway data, select locations or stations of interest, create summary statistics, and build maps and graphical visualizations. It concludes by replicating the first difference regressions used in “Subways and Urban Growth: Evidence from Earth” to identify the effect of subway systems on ridership of both subways and buses. Users of this tutorial will be provided with all the tools required to begin leveraging this resource for work in research across objectives and disciplines.

Data and Resources


Additional Info

Field Value
Author(s) Natalie Ayers
Last Updated August 10, 2021, 16:14 (UTC)
Created August 10, 2021, 15:21 (UTC)
Stable Link
Date 2021-08-10
Content Type Training Materials
Primary Category Governance & Management
Sub Category Infrastructure and Transportation
Country Name Global, Greece
Associated Datasets Global Subways Data (
Publishing Organization Center for Effective Global Action