Travel Isochrone Maps

  • Selwyn McCracken
  • Friday, Jun 26, 2020
  • Tags: Analysis; Scenario Modelling


Isochrone maps are used to display the distance that can be travelled within a specified time period from an origin location. By using information on traffic conditions, weather, public transport usage and even roadworks, isochrone maps are useful aids for urban planning, transport modelling, accessibility evaluation and transport route development. By visually presenting the typical movements of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, insights can be extracted in support of transport planning decisions.


To illustrate, we have created an interactive isochrone map below. It allows you to explore how far you can travel within 15 minutes across selected capital cities when walking, cycling or driving. The starting point within each city can be changed by dragging the marker pin to a new location on the map. The city and travel mode can be changed using the buttons in the top right.

While this example is simple, the addition of other data can allow almost any transport scenario to be modelled, tested, questioned, and re-examined virtually, without requiring disruption in the physical world.


Isochrone calculations are often the first step in transport modelling and planning, and can be used to support arguments for certain infrastructure changes needed to achieve optimal outcomes. Specific applications include:

  • Facility accessibility evaluation: How far away from venues should bus stops be? How quickly can patrons leave a stadium and reach the train station; what route will they take? How long will it take for a car coming from the suburbs to reach a new shopping centre? Any new development will require a detailed evaluation of the movement of people around the area and the effect it may have.

  • Public transport route planning: The ability to test different routes, time scales and transport modes offers a wealth of essential insight for the planning of any transport network. By understanding the isochrone catchments for stops along new routes, a planner can see the coverage of neighbourhoods and likely ridership, and the impact these routes may have on other forms of transport – such as pedestrians.

  • Depot and warehouse placement: Effective placement of depots and warehouses can have a big impact on transport costs and efficiency, and is a large focus of operational decision-making in the transport sector. Isochrone mapping, in combination with transport modelling, allows for understanding of area coverage, expected service times, pinch points and complicated interactions that may exist within the transport network.

  • Vehicle fleet coordination and logistics: Coordinating the activities of vehicle fleets is always a tough challenge, particularly as the complexity of organising where and when to collect or drop-off goods grows rapidly as the size of the vehicle fleet increases. Isochrone maps offer the means to see fleet coverage based on their existing positions, and to plan fleet activities efficiently, often in conjunction with specialised optimisation algorithms.

To find out how CAST can support your transport planning please contact us at