Using Auctions to Allocate Transportation Requests for Demand Responsive Transit Systems

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - north america, policy - disability, policy - equity, mode - demand responsive transit, economics - operating costs


Bus transit, Demand responsive transportation, Fixed routes, Paratransit services, Public transit, Transit operating agencies


There is a need for a transit system that provides flexible service at a cost efficient price. Fixed-route bus transit systems are much more cost efficient than Demand Responsive Transit (DRT) systems, with an average cost per passenger trip of $2.19 and about $17.00 respectively. However, as an alternative to private automobiles, fixed-route bus transit systems have a major deficiency. The general public considers the service to be inconvenient. Also, the total time for a trip is perceived as being greater than that of a private auto and trips covering more than 10 miles require transfers between vehicles. This may explain the small number of people who use some form of public transit system to work. DRT systems provide great flexibility but are largely limited to specialized operations such as dial-a-ride service mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (paratransit DRT) since they tend to be much more costly to deploy as a general transit service than fixed-route bus transit systems. Thus, their deployment and operating costs need to be reduced to make them viable as a general transit service. This project advocates the use of modern technologies to create DRT systems that are cost-efficient, distributed and adaptive, by exploiting the fact that buses are starting to be equipped with multi-way communication devices, on-board computers, sensors and data centers.


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