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Commuter rail, or suburban rail, is a passenger rail transport service that primarily operates within a metropolitan area, connecting commuters to a central city from adjacent suburbs or commuter towns.Generally commuter rail systems are considered heavy rail, using electrified or diesel trains. Distance charges or zone pricing may be used.
The term can refer to systems with a wide variety of different features and service frequencies, but is often used in contrast to rapid transit or light rail.
Similar non-English terms include Treno suburbano in Italian, Cercanías in Spanish, Rodalies in Catalan, Proastiakos in Greek, Train de banlieue in French, Příměstský vlak or Esko in Czech, Elektrichka in Russian, Pociąg podmiejski in Polish and Pendeltåg in Swedish.
Some services share similarities with both commuter rail and high-frequency rapid transit, such as the German S-Bahn , the Réseau Express Régional in Paris, many Japanese commuter systems, and some Australasian suburban networks. Some services, like British commuter rail, share tracks with other passenger services and freight.
In the United States, commuter rail often refers to services that operate a higher frequency during peak periods and a lower frequency off-peak.Since the creation of GO Transit's commuter service in 1967, commuter rail services and route length have been expanding in North America. In the US, commuter rail is sometimes referred to as regional rail.
Most commuter (or suburban) trains are built to main line rail standards,[ citation needed ] differing from light rail or rapid transit (metro rail) systems by:
Compared to rapid transit (or metro rail), commuter/suburban rail often has lower frequency, following a schedule rather than fixed intervals, and fewer stations spaced further apart. They primarily serve lower density suburban areas (non inner-city), and often share right-of-way with intercity or freight trains. Some services operate only during peak hours and others uses fewer departures during off peak hours and weekends. Average speeds are high, often 50 km/h (30 mph) or higher. These higher speeds better serve the longer distances involved. Some services include express services which skip some stations in order to run faster and separate longer distance riders from short-distance ones.[ citation needed ]
The general range of commuter trains' distance varies between 15 and 200 km (10 and 125 miles).[ citation needed ] Sometimes long distances can be explained by that the train runs between two or several cities (e.g. S-Bahn in the Ruhr area of Germany). Distances between stations may vary, but are usually much longer than those of urban rail systems. In city centers the train either has a terminal station or passes through the city centre with notably fewer station stops than those of urban rail systems. Toilets are often available on-board trains and in stations.
Their ability to coexist with freight or intercity services in the same right-of-way can drastically reduce system construction costs. However, frequently they are built with dedicated tracks within that right-of-way to prevent delays, especially where service densities have converged in the inner parts of the network.
Most such trains run on the local standard gauge track. Some systems may run on a narrower or broader gauge. Examples of narrow gauge systems are found in Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Switzerland, in the Brisbane (Queensland Rail's City network) and Perth (Transperth) systems in Australia, in some systems in Sweden, and on the Genoa-Casella line in Italy. Some countries and regions, including Finland, India, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil and Sri Lanka, as well as San Francisco (BART) in the US and Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia, use broad gauge track.
Metro rail or rapid transit usually covers a smaller inner-urban area ranging outwards to between 12 km to 20 km (or 8 to 14 miles), has a higher train frequency and runs on separate tracks (underground or elevated), whereas commuter rail often shares tracks, technology and the legal framework within mainline railway systems.[ citation needed ]
However, the classification as a metro or rapid rail can be difficult as both may typically cover a metropolitan area exclusively, run on separate tracks in the centre, and often feature purpose-built rolling stock. The fact that the terminology is not standardised across countries (even across English-speaking countries) further complicates matters. This distinction is most easily made when there are two (or more) systems such as New York's subway and the LIRR and Metro-North Railroad, Paris' Métro and RER along with Transilien, London's tube lines of the Underground and the Overground, (future) Crossrail, Thameslink along with other commuter rail operators, Madrid's Metro and Cercanías, Barcelona's Metro and Rodalies, and Tokyo's subway and the JR lines along with various privately owned and operated commuter rail systems.
An S-Train is a type of hybrid urban-suburban rail serving a metropolitan region. The most well-known S-train systems are the S-Bahn systems in Germany and Austria. Other well-known examples of S-train systems include the S-tog in Copenhagen and S-Bahn/RER systems in Switzerland. In Germany, the S-Bahn is regarded as a train category of its own, and exists in many large cities and in some other areas, with differing service and technical standards from city to city. Most S-Bahns typically behave like commuter rail with most trackage not separated from other trains, and long lines with trains running between cities and suburbs rather than within a city. The distances between stations however, are usually short. In larger systems there is usually a high frequency metro-like central corridor in the city center where all the lines converge into. Typical examples of large city S-Bahns include Munich and Frankfurt. S-Bahns also exist in some mid-size cities like Rostock and Magdeburg but behave more like typical commuter rail with lower frequencies and very little exclusive trackage. In Berlin, the S-Bahn systems arguably fulfill all considerations of a true metro system (despite the existence of U-Bahns as well) – the trains run on tracks that are entirely separated from other trains, short distances between stations, high frequency and uses tunnels but do run a bit further out from the city centre, compared with U-Bahn. In Hamburg and Copenhagen, other, diesel driven trains, do continue where the S-Bahn ends ("A-Bahn" in Hamburg area, and "L-tog" in Copenhagen).[ citation needed ]
Regional rail usually provides rail services between towns and cities, rather than purely linking major population hubs in the way inter-city rail does. Regional rail operates outside major cities. Unlike Inter-city, it stops at most or all stations between cities. It provides a service between smaller communities along the line, and also connections with long-distance services at interchange stations located at junctions or at larger towns along the line. Alternative names are "local train" or "stopping train". Examples include the former BR's Regional Railways, France's TER (Transport express régional), Germany's DB Regio and South Korea's Tonggeun services.[ citation needed ]
Regional rail does not exist in this sense in the United States, so the term "regional rail" has become synonymous with commuter rail there, although the two are more clearly defined in Europe.
In some European countries the distinction between commuter trains and long-distance/intercity trains is very hard to make, because of the relatively short distances involved. For example, so-called "intercity" trains in Belgium and the Netherlands carry many commuters and their equipment, range and speeds are similar to those of commuter trains in some larger countries. In the United Kingdom there is no real division of organisation and brand name between commuter, regional and inter-city trains, making it hard to categorize train connections.
Russian commuter trains, on the other hand, frequently cover areas larger than Belgium itself, although these are still short distances by Russian standards. They have a different ticketing system from long-distance trains, and in major cities they often operate from a separate section of the train station.
The easiest way to identify these "inter-city" services is that they tend to operate as express services - only linking the main stations in the cities they link, not stopping at any other stations. However, this term is used in Australia (Sydney for example) to describe the regional trains operating beyond the boundaries of the suburban services, even though some of these "inter-city" services stop all stations similar to German regional services. In this regard, the German service delineations and corresponding naming conventions are clearer and better used for academic purposes.
Sometimes high-speed rail can serve daily use of commuters. The Japanese Shinkansen high speed rail system is heavily used by commuters in the Greater Tokyo Area. They commute between 100 and 200 km by Shinkansen. To meet the demand of commuters, JR sells commuter discount passes and operates 16-car bilevel E4 Series Shinkansen trains at rush hour, providing a capacity of 1,600 seats. Several lines in China, such as the Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway and the Shanghai–Nanjing High-Speed Railway, serve a similar role with many more under construction or planned.
The high-speed services linking Zürich, Bern and Basel in Switzerland (200 km/h (120 mph)) have brought the Central Business Districts (CBDs) of these three cities within 1 hour of each other. This has resulted in unexpectedly high demand for new commuter trips between the three cities and a corresponding increase in suburban rail passengers accessing the high-speed services at the main city-centre stations (or Hauptbahnhof). The Regional-Express commuter service between Munich and Nuremberg in Germany go in (200 km/h (120 mph)) along a 300 km/h high-speed line.
The regional trains Stockholm–Uppsala, Stockholm–Västerås, Stockholm–Eskilstuna and Gothenburg–Trollhättan in Sweden reach 200 km/h (120 mph) and have many daily commuters.
Commuter/suburban trains are usually optimized for maximum passenger volume, in most cases without sacrificing too much comfort and luggage space, though they seldom have all the amenities of long-distance trains. Cars may be single- or double-level, and aim to provide seating for all. Compared to intercity trains, they have less space, fewer amenities and limited baggage areas.
Commuter rail trains are usually composed of multiple units, which are self-propelled, bidirectional, articulated passenger rail cars with driving motors on each (or every other) bogie. Depending on local circumstances and tradition they may be powered either by diesel engines located below the passenger compartment (diesel multiple units) or by electricity picked up from third rails or overhead lines (electric multiple units). Multiple units are almost invariably equipped with control cabs at both ends, which is why such units are so frequently used to provide commuter services, due to the associated short turn-around time.
Locomotive hauled services are used in some countries or locations. This is often a case of asset sweating, by using a single large combined fleet for intercity and regional services. Loco hauled services are usually run in push-pull formation, that is, the train can run with the locomotive at the "front" or "rear" of the train (pushing or pulling). Trains are often equipped with a control cab at the other end of the train from the locomotive, allowing the train operator to operate the train from either end. The motive power for locomotive-hauled commuter trains may be either electric or diesel-electric, although some countries, such as Germany and some of the former Soviet-bloc countries, also use diesel-hydraulic locomotives.
In the US and some other countries, a three-and-two seat plan is used. However, few people sit in the middle seat on these trains because they feel crowded and uncomfortable.
In Japan and South Korea, longitudinal (sideways window-lining) seating is widely used in many commuter rail trains to increase capacity in rush hours. Carriages are usually not organized to increase seating capacity (although in some trains at least one carriage would feature more doors to facilitate easier boarding and alighting and bench seats so that they can be folded up during rush hour to provide more standing room) even in the case of commuting longer than 50 km and commuters in the Greater Tokyo Area and the Seoul metropolitan area have to stand in the train for more than an hour.
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Currently there are not many examples of commuter rail in Africa. Metrorail operates in the major cities of South Africa, and there are some commuter rail services in Algeria, Botswana, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. In Algeria, SNTF operates commuter rail lines between the capital Algiers and its southern and eastern suburbs. They also serve to connect Algiers' main universities to each other. The Dar es Salaam commuter rail offers intracity services in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In Botswana, the (Botswana Railways) "BR Express" has a commuter train between Lobatse and Gaborone.
In Japan, commuter rail systems have extensive network and frequent service and are heavily used. In many cases, Japanese commuter rail is operationally more like a typical metro system (with very high operating frequencies, an emphasis on standing passengers, short station spacing) than it is like commuter rail in other countries. Japanese commuter rail also tends to be heavily interlined with subway lines, with commuter rail trains continuing into the subway network, and then out onto different commuter rail systems on the other side of the city. Many Japanese commuter systems operate several levels of express trains to reduce the travel time to distant locations, often using station bypass tracks instead of dedicated express tracks. It is notable that the larger Japanese commuter rail systems are owned and operated by for-profit private railway companies, without public subsidy.
Commuter rail systems have been inaugurated in several cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha and the Pearl River Delta. With plans for large systems in northeastern Zhejiang, Jingjinji, and Yangtze River Delta areas. The level of service varies considerably from line to line ranging high to near high speeds. More developed and established lines such as the Guangshen Railway have more frequent metro like service. Hong Kong MTR's East Rail Line, West Rail Line and Tung Chung Line were built to commuter rail standards but are operated as a metro system.
In Taiwan, Western Line in Taipei-Taoyuan Metropolitan Area, Taichung Metropolitan Area, Tainan-Kaohsiung Metropolitan Area as well as Neiwan-Liujia Line in Hsinchu Area is considered commuter rail.
Other examples in East Asia include Seoul Metropolitan Subway of which some lines are suburban lines operated by Korail in South Korea.
In Indonesia, the KRL Commuterline is the largest commuter rail system in the country, serving Jakarta metropolitan area. It connects the Jakarta city center with surrounding cities and sub-urbans in Banten and West Java provinces, including Depok, Bogor, Tangerang, Bekasi, Serpong and Maja. In July 2015, KA Commuter Jabodetabek served more than 850,000 passengers per day, which is almost triple of the 2011 figures, but still less than 3.5% of all Jabodetabek commutes.Other commuter rail systems in Indonesia include the Metro Surabaya Commuter Line, Prambanan Ekspres Commuter, Solo Ekspres, Kedung Sepur, Greater Bandung Commuter, and Cut Meutia.
In the Philippines, the Philippine National Railways has two commuter rail systems currently operational; the PNR Metro Commuter Line in the Greater Manila Area and the PNR Bicol Commuter in the Bicol Region. A new commuter rail line in Metro Manila, the North–South Commuter Railway, is currently under construction. Its North section is set to be partially opened by 2021.
In Malaysia, the KTM Komuter serves Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding Klang Valley area.
In Thailand, the Greater Bangkok Commuter rail and the Airport Rail Link serve the Bangkok Metropolitan Region. The SRT Red Lines, a new commuter line in Bangkok, started construction in 2009. It is currently slated to be opened by 2020.
Another commuter rail system in Southeast Asia is the Yangon Circular Railway in Myanmar.
In India, commuter rail systems are present in major cities. Mumbai Suburban Railway, the oldest suburban rail system in Asia, carries more than 7.24 million commuters on a daily basis which constitutes more than half of the total daily passenger capacity of the Indian Railways itself. Kolkata Suburban Railway is the biggest Suburban Railway network in India covering 348 stations carries more than 3.5 million commuters per day. The Chennai Suburban Railway along with MRTS is another railway of comparison where more than 1 million people travel daily to different areas in Chennai. Other commuter railways in India include Hyderabad MMTS, Delhi Suburban Railway, Pune Suburban Railway and Lucknow-Kanpur Suburban Railway.
Delhi Regional Rapid Transit System(RRTS) is under construction on 3 routes in Delhi NCR.The rotes have planned according to RER suburban lines in Paris.
In Iran, SYSTRA has done a "Tehran long term urban rail study". SYSTRA proposed 4 express lines similar to RER suburban lines in Paris. Tehran Metro is going to construct express lines. For instance, the Rahyab Behineh, a consultant for Tehran Metro, is studying Tehran Express Line 2. Tehran Metro currently has a commuter line between Tehran and Karaj. Isfahan has two lines to its suburbs Baharestan and Fuladshahr under construction, and a third line to Shahinshahr is planned.
Major metropolitan areas in most European countries are usually served by extensive commuter/suburban rail systems. Well-known examples include BG Voz in Belgrade (Serbia), S-Bahn in Germany and German-speaking areas of Switzerland and Austria, Proastiakos in Greece, RER in France and Belgium, suburban lines in Milan (Italy), Cercanías and Rodalies (Catalonia) in Spain, CP Urban Services in Portugal, Esko in Prague and Ostrava (Czech Republic), HÉV in Budapest (Hungary) and DART in Dublin (Ireland).
In Russia, Ukraine and some other countries of the former Soviet Union, electrical multiple unit passenger suburban trains called Elektrichka are widespread.
In Sweden, electrified commuter rail systems known as Pendeltåg are present in the cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg. The Stockholm commuter rail system, which began in 1968, is similar to the S-Bahn train systems of Munich and Frankfurt such that it may share railway tracks with inter-city trains and freight trains, but for the most part run on its own dedicated tracks, and that it is primarily used to transport passengers from nearby towns and other suburban areas into the city centre, not for transportation inside the city centre. The Gothenburg commuter rail system, which began in 1960, is similar to the Stockholm system, but does fully share tracks with long-distance trains. Other train systems that are also considered as commuter rail but not counted as pendeltåg include Roslagsbanan and Saltsjöbanan in Stockholm, Mälartåg in the Mälaren Valley, Östgötapendeln in Östergötland County, Upptåget in Uppsala County, Norrtåg in northern Norrland and Skåne Commuter Rail in Skåne County. Skåne Commuter Rail (Pågatågen) acts also as a regional rail system, as it serves cities over 100 km (62 miles) and over one hour from the principal city of Malmö.
In Norway, the Oslo commuter rail system mostly shares tracks with more long-distance trains, but also runs on some local railways without other traffic. Oslo has the largest commuter rail system in the Nordic countries in terms of line lengths and number of stations. But some lines have travel times (over an hour from Oslo) and frequencies (once per hour) which are more like regional trains. Also Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim have commuter rail systems. These have only one or two lines each and they share tracks with other trains.
In Finland, the Helsinki commuter rail network runs on dedicated tracks from Helsinki Central railway station to Leppävaara and Kerava. The Ring Rail Line serves Helsinki Airport and northern suburbs of Vantaa and is exclusively used by the commuter rail network. On 15 December 2019 Tampere got its own commuter rail service.
In Poland, commuter rail systems exist in Tricity, Warsaw, Krakow and Katowice. There is also a similar system planned in Wrocław and Łódź.
In Romania, the first commuter trains were introduced in December 2019. They operate currently between Bucharest and Funduea or Buftea.
In the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico regional passenger rail services are provided by governmental or quasi-governmental agencies, with a limited number of metropolitan areas served.
Eight commuter rail systems in the United States carried over ten million trips in 2018:[ which eight out of this list? ]
North American commuter rail systems outside of the United States include:
Examples include an 899 km (559 mi) commuter system in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, the 225 km (140 mi) long Supervia in Rio de Janeiro, the Metrotrén in Santiago, Chile, and the Valparaíso Metro in Valparaíso, Chile. Another example is Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM) in Greater São Paulo, Brazil. CPTM has 94 stations with seven lines, numbered starting on 7 (the lines 1 to 6 and the line 15 belong to the São Paulo Metro), with a total length of 273 kilometres (170 mi).
The five major cities in Australia have suburban railway systems in their metropolitan areas. These networks have frequent services, with frequencies varying from every 10 to every 30 minutes on most suburban lines, and up to 3–5 minutes in peak on bundled underground lines in the city centres of Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne. The networks in each state developed from mainline railways and have never been completely operationally separate from long distance and freight traffic, unlike metro systems in some comparable countries, but nevertheless have cohesive identities and are the backbones of their respective cities' public transport system. The suburban networks are almost completely electrified.
The main suburban rail networks in Australia are:
New Zealand has two frequent suburban rail services comparable to those in Australia: the Auckland rail network is operated by Transdev Auckland and the Wellington rail network is operated by Transdev Wellington.
Inter-city rail services are express passenger train services that cover longer distances than commuter or regional trains.
Veolia Transport was the international transport services division of the French-based multinational company Veolia Environnement until the 2011 merger that gave rise to Veolia Transdev. Veolia Transport traded under the brand names of Veolia Transportation in North America and Israel, Veolia Transport, Veolia Verkehr in Germany and with the former name Connex preserved in Lebanon, Melbourne and Jersey.
The S-train is a type of hybrid urban-suburban rail serving a metropolitan region. Some of the larger S-train systems provide service similar to rapid transit systems, while smaller ones often resemble commuter or even regional rail. They are especially common in Germany and Austria, where they are known as S-Bahn, which in the 1930s was an abbreviation of either Schnellbahn, Stadtbahn or Stadtschnellbahn, depending on the city, but they must not be confused with U-Stadtbahnen. Similar S-train systems exist also in Switzerland known as S-Bahn as well. In Denmark, they are known as S-tog[ˈesˌtsʰɔˀw], in the Czech Republic as Esko or S-lines, and northern Italy as Servizio ferroviario followed by either the word "metropolitano" or "suburbano".
First class is the most luxurious and most expensive travel class of seats and service on a train, passenger ship, airplane, bus, or other system of transport. Compared to business class and economy class, it offers the best service and most comfortable accommodation.
Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM) is a rapid transit and commuter rail company owned by the São Paulo State Department for Metropolitan Transports. It was created in May 28, 1992 from several railroads that already existed in Greater São Paulo, Brazil.
Urban rail transit is an all-encompassing term for various types of local rail systems providing passenger service within and around urban or suburban areas. The set of urban rail systems can be roughly subdivided into the following categories, which sometimes overlap because some systems or lines have aspects of multiple types.
Various terms are used for passenger railway lines and equipment; the usage of these terms differs substantially between areas:
Rail transport in Japan is a major means of passenger transport, especially for mass and high-speed travel between major cities and for commuter transport in urban areas. It is used relatively little for freight transport, accounting for just 0.84% of goods movement. The privatised network is highly efficient, requiring few subsidies and running extremely punctually.
An airport rail link is a service providing passenger rail transport from an airport to a nearby city by mainline or commuter trains, rapid transit, people mover, or light rail. Direct links operate straight to the airport terminal, while other systems require an intermediate use of people mover or shuttle bus.
The transport network in Greater Tokyo includes public and private rail and highway networks; airports for international, domestic, and general aviation; buses; motorcycle delivery services, walking, bicycling, and commercial shipping. While the nexus is in the central part of Tokyo, every part of the Greater Tokyo Area has rail or road transport services. The sea and air transport is available from a limited number of ports for the general public.
Sydney, the largest city in Australia, has an extensive network of passenger and freight railways. The passenger system includes an extensive suburban railway network, operated by Sydney Trains, a metro network and a light rail network. A dedicated freight network also exists. Future expansion of the light rail network includes the newly opened CBD and South East Light Rail, and the planned Parramatta Light Rail.
Transportation in the U.S. State of Minnesota consists of a complex network of roadways, railways, waterways and airports. The transportation system is generally overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, a cabinet-level agency of the state government. Additionally, regional governments such as the Metropolitan Council have authority over regional planning for the transportation system and local governments such as cities and counties oversee the local transportation network.
Rapid transit or mass rapid transit (MRT), also known as heavy rail, metro, subway, tube, U-Bahn or underground, is a type of high-capacity public transport generally found in urban areas. Unlike buses or trams, rapid transit systems are electric railways that operate on an exclusive right-of-way, which cannot be accessed by pedestrians or other vehicles of any sort, and which is often grade-separated in tunnels or on elevated railways.
Berlin has developed a highly complex transportation infrastructure providing very diverse modes of urban mobility. 979 bridges cross 197 kilometers of innercity waterways, 5,334 kilometres (3,314 mi) of roads run through Berlin, of which 73 kilometres (45 mi) are motorways.
Urban rail, commuter rail, regional rail, or suburban rail plays a key role in public transport in many of the United Kingdom's major cities. Urban rail is defined as a rail service between a central business district and suburbs or other locations that draw large numbers of people on a daily basis. The trains providing such services may be termed commuter trains.
Railway companies in Europe assign their trains to different categories or train types depending on their role. Passenger trains may be broadly split into long-distance and local trains; the latter having average journey times of under an hour and a range of less than 50 kilometres. Goods trains have their own train types. The names of these train types have changed continually over the course of time.
Public transportation in the United States refers to publicly financed mass transit services across the nation. This includes various forms of bus, rail, ferry, and sometimes, airline services. Most established public transit systems are located in central, urban areas where there is enough density and public demand to require public transportation. In more auto-centric suburban localities, public transit is normally, but not always, less frequent and less common. Most public transit services in the United States are either national, regional/commuter, or local, depending on the type of service. Furthermore, sometimes "public transportation" in the United States is an umbrella term used synonymous with "alternative transportation", meaning any form of mobility that excludes driving alone by automobile. This can sometimes include carpooling, vanpooling, on-demand mobility, infrastructure that is fixated toward bicycles, and paratransit service.
TrainOSE S.A. is a railway company in Greece which currently operates all passenger and freight trains on OSE lines. TrainOSE was acquired in September 2017 by the Italian national railway company, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane. Previously, the company was a subsidiary of the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) until 2008, when it became an independent state-owned company until its privatisation in 2017. TrainOSE employs all train crews, operators and manages the rail services throughout the Greek railway network, but does not own any rolling stock, leasing rolling stock owned by OSE instead.
Sydney Trains is the suburban passenger rail network serving the city of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The network is a hybrid urban-suburban rail system with a central underground core that covers over 813 km (505 mi) of track and 175 stations over eight lines. It has metro-equivalent train frequencies of every three minutes or better in the underground core, 5–10 minutes off-peak at most inner-city and major stations and 15 minutes off-peak at most minor stations. During weekday peak services trains are more frequent, while frequency decreases on weekends.