Fleet scheduling and dispatching for demand-responsive passenger services


Mark E.T. Horn

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, mode - taxi, operations - scheduling, ridership - demand


scheduling, dispatching, demand-responsive, multi-modal, vehicle routing, public transport, passenger transport, dial-a-ride, ride-sharing, taxis


This paper describes a software system designed to manage the deployment of a fleet of demand-responsive passenger vehicles such as taxis or variably routed buses. Multiple modes of operation are supported both for the fleet and for individual vehicles. Booking requests can be immediate (i.e. with zero notice) or in advance of travel. An initial implementation is chosen for each incoming request, subject to time-window and other constraints, and with an objective of minimising additional travel time or maximising a surrogate for future fleet capacity. This incremental insertion scheme is supplemented by post-insert improvement procedures, a periodically executed steepest-descent improvement procedure applied to the fleet as a whole, and a “rank-homing” heuristic incorporating information about future patterns of demand. A simple objective for trip-insertion and other scheduling operations is based on localised minimisation of travel time, while an alternative incorporating occupancy ratios has a more strategic orientation. Apart from its scheduling functions, the system includes automated vehicle dispatching procedures designed to achieve a favourable combination of customer service and efficiency of vehicle deployment. Provision is made for a variety of contingencies, including travel slower or faster than expected, unexpected vehicle locations, vehicle breakdowns and trip cancellations. Simulation tests indicate that the improvement procedures yield substantial efficiencies over more naïve scheduling methods and that the system will be effective in real-time applications.


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


Transportation Research Part C Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0968090X