Use of Real-Time Operational Tactics to Synchronize Transfers in Headway-Based Public Transport Service

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - coordination, operations - reliability, technology - intelligent transport systems, place - australasia, planning - service improvement, ridership - demand


vehicle synchronization, traffic disturbances, passenger demand, system reliability, real-time tactic-based control (TBC)


The problem of applying efficient vehicle synchronization at transfer points was addressed. To reduce the waiting time of transferring passengers and to provide an integrated, well-connected, public transport (PT) service, maximal synchronized transfers were employed at the planning level. However, at the operation level, synchronized transfers do not always appear because of certain stochastic and uncertain factors, such as traffic disturbances and disruptions, fluctuations of passenger demand, and the erroneous behavior of PT drivers. These factors can lead to deterioration in system reliability, missed transfers, and passenger frustration. This work presents a real-time tactic-based control (TBC) procedure to increase the service reliability and actual occurrence of synchronized transfers in a headway-based PT system. The procedure aims at minimizing additional travel time for passengers and reducing the uncertainty of meetings between PT vehicles. The TBC procedure uses selected online operational tactics, such as holding, boarding limits, and skipping stops, all of which are based on real-time data. A library of operational tactics was first built to serve as a basis for the real-time decision-making process in TBC. Then, an extensive analysis framework for event-based activity simulation with dynamic moving elements was constructed to represent the logical process of the problem of PT transfer synchronization. A case study of the Auckland PT system is described for assessing the methodology developed. The results showed improvements of system performance and yielded new findings on what control policy to use in different scenarios.


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