Transit-oriented autonomous vehicle operation with integrated demand-supply interaction

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - demand responsive transit, mode - rail, ridership - behaviour, ridership - demand, ridership - mode choice, land use - impacts, economics - operating costs, operations - capacity, operations - coordination, planning - integration, planning - methods, planning - service level, policy - sustainable, policy - equity


Shared mobility-on-demand system, Autonomous vehicles, Public transportation, Agent-based simulation, Mode choice model


Autonomous vehicles (AVs) represent potentially disruptive and innovative changes to public transportation (PT) systems. However, the exact interplay between AV and PT is understudied in existing research. This paper proposes a systematic approach to the design, simulation, and evaluation of integrated autonomous vehicle and public transportation (AV + PT) systems. Two features distinguish this research from the state of the art in the literature: the first is the transit-oriented AV operation with the purpose of supporting existing PT modes; the second is the explicit modeling of the interaction between demand and supply.

We highlight the transit-orientation by identifying the synergistic opportunities between AV and PT, which makes AVs more acceptable to all the stakeholders and respects the social-purpose considerations such as maintaining service availability and ensuring equity. Specifically, AV is designed to serve first-mile connections to rail stations and provide efficient shared mobility in low-density suburban areas. The interaction between demand and supply is modeled using a set of system dynamics equations and solved as a fixed-point problem through an iterative simulation procedure. We develop an agent-based simulation platform of service and a discrete choice model of demand as two subproblems. Using a feedback loop between supply and demand, we capture the interaction between the decisions of the service operator and those of the travelers and model the choices of both parties. Considering uncertainties in demand prediction and stochasticity in simulation, we also evaluate the robustness of our fixed-point solution and demonstrate the convergence of the proposed method empirically.

We test our approach in a major European city, simulating scenarios with various fleet sizes, vehicle capacities, fare schemes, and hailing strategies such as in-advance requests. Scenarios are evaluated from the perspectives of passengers, AV operators, PT operators, and urban mobility system. Results show the trade off between the level of service and the operational cost, providing insight for fleet sizing to reach the optimal balance. Our simulated experiments show that encouraging ride-sharing, allowing in-advance requests, and combining fare with transit help enable service integration and encourage sustainable travel. Both the transit-oriented AV operation and the demand-supply interaction are essential components for defining and assessing the roles of the AV technology in our future transportation systems, especially those with ample and robust transit networks.


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


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