Optimal coordination of public-transit vehicles using operational tactics examined by simulation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - operating costs, infrastructure - interchange/transfer, mode - mass transit, operations - coordination, operations - reliability, operations - scheduling, planning - route design


Public transit, Optimization, Simulation, Transfers


This work focuses on improving transit-service reliability by optimally reducing the transfer time required in the operations of transit networks. Service reliability of public-transit operations is receiving increased attention as agencies are faced with immediate problems of proving credible service while attempting to reduce operating cost. Unreliable service has also been cited as the major deterrent to existing and potential passengers. Due to the fact that most of the public transit attributes are stochastic: travel time, dwell time, demand, etc., the passenger is likely to experience unplanned waiting times and ride times. One of the main components of service reliability is the use of transfers. Transfers have the advantages of reducing operational costs and introducing more flexible and efficient route planning. However its main drawback is the inconvenience of traveling multi-legged trips. This work introduces synchronized (timed) time-tables to diminish the waiting time caused by transfers. Their use, however, suffers from uncertainty about the simultaneous arrival of two (or more) vehicles at an existing stop. In order to alleviate the uncertainty of simultaneous arrivals, operational tactics such as hold, skip stop and short-turn can be deployed considering the positive and negative effects, of each tactic, on the total travel time. A dynamic programming model was developed for minimizing the total travel time resulting with a set of preferred tactics to be deployed. This work describes the optimization model using simulation for validation of the results attained. The results confirm the benefits of the model with 10% reduction of total travel time and more than 200% increase of direct transfers (transfers in which both vehicles arrive simultaneously to the transfer point).


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


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