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The knowledge of real-life traffic patterns is crucial for a good understanding and analysis of transportation systems. These data are quite rare. In this paper we propose an algorithm for extracting both the real physical topology and the network of traffic flows from timetables of public mass transportation systems. We apply this algorithm to timetables of three large transportation networks. This enables us to make a systematic comparison between three different approaches to construct a graph representation of a transportation network; the resulting graphs are fundamentally different. We also find that the real-life traffic pattern is very heterogeneous, in both space and traffic flow intensities, which makes it very difficult to approximate the node load with a number of topological estimators.