Holding times to maintain quasi-regular headways and reduce real-time bus bunching

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus rapid transit, operations - coordination, place - north america, place - urban


Bus bunching, Real-time, Holding time, Transit operations, Beam search


Real-time control strategies deal with the day’s dynamics in bus rapid transit systems. This work focuses on minimizing the number of buses of the same line cruising head-to-tail or arriving at a stop simultaneously by implementing bus holding times at the stops as a control strategy. We propose a new mathematical model to determine the bus holding times. It has quadratic constraints but a linear objective function that minimizes the bus bunching penalties. We also propose a beam-search heuristic to reduce computational solution time to solve large instances. Experimental results on a bus rapid transit system simulation in Monterrey, Mexico, show a bus bunching reduction of 45% compared to the case without optimization. Moreover, passenger waiting times are reduced by 30% in some scenarios. For real-world instances with 60 buses, the beam-search approach provides solutions with an optimality gap of less than 5% in less than 3 s.


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