Event-Driven Holding Control for High-Frequency Transit

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - performance, planning - travel demand management


Transit operations, unpredictable disruptions, foreseen disruptions, anticipatory control strategies


Transit operations are subject to disruptions caused by events. Some events cause unpredictable disruptions (e.g., signal failures in rail transit and traffic accidents along a bus route operating in mixed traffic). Other events, such as concerts or sport contests, cause foreseen disruptions. In some cases, dynamic functions of running times and demand can be used to predict and model disruptions. Past research has explored the use of operations control to respond to disruptions after service deteriorates, assuming constant running times and demand. The proposed framework enables anticipatory control strategies by dynamically modeling expected changes in running times and demand during events. A holding optimization model formulated to capture dynamics is applied to a simulated transit system experiencing disruptions induced by an unforeseen event and a foreseen event. Controlling operations with an awareness of events has little effect in the unforeseen event case but significantly improves performance in the foreseen event case. Erroneous estimates of the time an event will occur can lead to counterproductive control policies.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.