A Crew Scheduling with Chinese Meal Break Rules

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



urban transportation, crew scheduling, Chinese meal break, heuristics, shift generation


An efficient crew scheduling can significantly reduce the operational cost for transit enterprises. However, the crew scheduling problem, known to be NP-hard, is complicated by the fact that there are many restrictions on the shift generation. Moreover, there are some special requirements in China, for example, meal break is normally required to be taken during the conventional time ranges for lunch or dinner, which is called a Chinese meal break rule to distinguish from the western ones. It also makes the existing crew scheduling approaches encountering difficulties. On the basis of the “generate and select” approach to solve the crew scheduling problem, this paper proposes an approach to handling the Chinese meal break rule in the phase of “generate”. Taking advantages of the characteristics of Chinese meal break rule and problem domain knowledge, a heuristic-based approach is proposed to select some promising relief opportunities (ROs). A shift generation approach is then devised to generate a large set of potential shifts that satisfy the Chinese meal break rule. Experimental results from 12 groups of real-world problem instances demonstrate the success of the proposed approach, which can greatly reduce the number of potential shifts generated. Therefore, it is suggested that the proposed approach be used to solve the large scale crew scheduling problems with Chinese meal break rule.


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


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