The impact of using a naïve approach in the limited-stop bus service design problem

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, operations - capacity, operations - scheduling, ridership - modelling, planning - methods, planning - network design


Limited-stop service design, Capacity constraint, Passenger assignment, Naïve approach, User Equilibrium


The proven benefits of limited-stop services have captured the attention of researchers, especially during the last decade. However, to solve the limited-stop service design problem many existing works directly impose a capacity constraint to a total social cost objective function. This “naïve approach” implicitly assumes that passengers behave altruistically, basing their decisions on what is best for the whole system. Although this issue has been identified in earlier works, the magnitude of the error induced by this simplification has not been studied yet. The objective of this work is to measure this error and to understand how it misrepresents passenger flows and bus occupation rates. To measure this error gap, we optimize a set of test scenarios by applying a naïve approach, and then take the resulting design and obtain a benchmark passenger assignment using a simple behavioral model. We propose two main indicators to compare both passenger assignment: the total passenger deviation, and the total capacity deficit. This comparison reveals that the assignment of the naïve approach may indeed be unrealistic, and raises concerns that a network design based on the naïve approach might have severe problems when implemented. Thus, the work highlights the importance of taking the results of the naïve approach with caution and verify them with a passenger assignment model before their implementation.


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


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