Microsimulation of Flexible Transit System Designs in Realistic Urban Networks

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - commuting, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - mass transit, mode - bus rapid transit


Urban areas, Transit, Public transit, Microsimulation, Mass transit, Local transit, Flexible transit system, Bus rapid transit


The use of microsimulation is not prevalent in modeling transit systems. The software available is rarely capable of modeling transit systems that route vehicles in real time or systems that adjust to the level of demand. It is not straightforward to model a transit system with the available simulation packages, especially when the transit scheme is not “standard.” Even the simulation of basic schemes such as a streetcar system or a paratransit service is not an option in existing simulation software. A cursory study would reveal that simulation of any vehicle class other than personal automobiles is always developed as an afterthought in the existing large-scale microsimulation packages. In most cases, simulation developers have done only a superficial addition of transit simulation on top of detailed simulation of automobiles and control mechanisms on freeways and arterials. A microsimulation framework has been developed for a general transit system. Concrete applications of such a framework have been developed and are presented in this paper. Two different transit systems are modeled using the same general framework to show the flexibility of the simulation scheme: a bus rapid transit system and a large-scale real-time routed transit design. The intent is to describe the flexibility that can be brought into a properly designed microscopic simulation platform to model innovative transit system designs, especially in larger urban networks. A simulation scenario is presented in which both transit systems function. The details of both simulations are described along with the problems encountered, and ways to solve them are exposed.