The function of a metro station area is vital for city planners to consider when establishing a context-aware Transit-Oriented Development policy around the station area. However, the functions of metro station areas are hard to infer using the static land use distribution and other traditional survey datasets. In this paper, we propose a method to infer the functions occurring around the metro station catchment areas according to the patterns of staying activities derived from smart card data. We first define the staying activities by the spatial and temporal constraints of the two consecutive alighting and boarding records from the individual travel profile. Then we cluster and label the whole staying activities by considering the features of duration, frequency, and start time. By analyzing the percentage of different types of aggregated activities happening around each metro station, we cluster and explore the functions of the metro station area. Taking Wuhan as a case study, we analyze the results of Wuhan metro systems and discuss the similarities and differences between the functions and the land use distribution around the station area. The results show that although there exist some agreements, there is also a gap between the human activities and the land uses around the station area. These findings could give us deeper insight into how people act around the stations by metro systems, which will ultimately benefit the urban planning and policy development.
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