Integrated optimization of timetable, bus formation, and vehicle scheduling in autonomous modular public transport systems

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - other, operations - capacity, operations - scheduling, planning - integration, planning - methods, economics - operating costs


Autonomous modular vehicle, Flexible vehicle scheduling, ]Integrated optimization, Public transport, Timetable


This paper presents a joint optimization of the timetable, bus formation, and vehicle scheduling in a flexible public transport (PT) system that utilizes autonomous modular vehicles (AMVs). In this system, AMVs have the capability to detach or join with each other at intermediate stops along the route to dynamically adjust the bus formation (capacity). To increase vehicle utilization, a flexible scheduling strategy is proposed that allows AMVs to detach from one modular bus and join another modular bus in either direction of a bidirectional line. In particular, the penalty cost for each detachment or joining operation, as well as the limited number of available AMVs is explicitly considered. We formulate a unified model for the integrated optimization of the modular bus service (timetable and bus formation) and vehicle scheduling by introducing two types of decision variables. The objective is to minimize overall system costs, including passenger waiting time cost, operational costs, and detachment/joining penalty costs. The two types of decision variables are coupled by a vehicle resource consistency constraint, ensuring the conformity of the modular bus service and vehicle scheduling decisions. To tackle the complexity of our model, the Alternating Direction Method of Multipliers (ADMM) is employed to decompose it into two subproblems, which can be efficiently solved using a customized forward dynamic programming algorithm and a commercial solver. The model is validated using illustrative examples and a real-world instance from the Beijing Public Transport system, and it is compared with two benchmark models. Our results demonstrate the efficiency of the ADMM-based solution framework for solving the integrated optimization model. Furthermore, our findings indicate that the use of AMVs in PT systems can lead to reduced overall system costs and increased vehicle utilization.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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