Optimizing passengers routes is crucial to design efficient transportation networks. Recent results show that optimal transport provides an efficient alternative to standard optimization methods. However, it is not yet clear if this formalism has empirical validity on engineering networks. We address this issue by considering different response functions-quantities determining the interaction between passengers-in the dynamics implementing the optimal transport formulation. Particularly, we compare a theoretically-grounded response function with one that is intuitive for settings involving transportation of passengers, albeit lacking theoretical justifications. We investigate these two modeling choices on the Paris metro and analyze how they reflect on passengers’ fluxes. We measure the extent of traffic bottlenecks and infrastructure resilience to node removal, showing that the two settings are equivalent in the congested transport regime, but different in the branched one. In the latter, the two formulations differ on how fluxes are distributed, with one function favoring routes consolidation, thus potentially being prone to generate traffic overload. Additionally, we compare our method to Dijkstra’s algorithm to show its capacity to efficiently recover shortest-path-like graphs. Finally, we observe that optimal transport networks lie in the Pareto front drawn by the energy dissipated by passengers, and the cost to build the infrastructure.