There are four basic categories of models in transport geography, each with growing complexity and data requirements. Each is building upon the other, implying, for instance, that estimating accessibility cannot be assessed without information about distance. Further, spatial interactions are derived from accessibility assessments:
- Distance. The most fundamental element of geography in general and transport geography in particular. It can be represented in different manners, from a simple Euclidean distance calculation to a complex estimation of a logistical distance that considers all the tasks necessary to realize mobility. Estimating distance requires the consideration of the involved transportation networks.
- Accessibility and connectivity. Defined as the capability of a location to be reached by or to reach different locations. Therefore, measuring the capacity and the arrangement of transport infrastructure are key elements in determining accessibility. It requires more extensive information about the transport capabilities between locations. Connectivity focuses on the network configuration of locations, particularly in terms of transportation services. Two identical ports or airports could have different accessibility and connectivity depending on the service configuration of the transport operators servicing them.
- Spatial interaction and routing. Involve a realized passenger or freight movement between an origin and a destination. A demand/supply relationship is fulfilled and represented as a spatial flow. Routing is a specific category of spatial interaction that considers a given set of origins and destinations for which specific (often optimal) routes are found.
- Transportation / land use models. A complex framework trying to assess the numerous relations and feedback effects between transportation and the spatial structure. The main goal is to represent the complex spatial framework that explains the supply and demand for mobility and how this framework can be impacted by economic, social, technological, and political changes.