An optimization model for planning limited-stop transit operations

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, operations - scheduling, economics - operating costs, ridership - demand, planning - methods, planning - service quality


Passenger demand, operating costs, service quality, limited-stop operation


Surface transit lines in North America commonly feature a basic service pattern consisting of a single branch of all-stop service, with stops usually tightly spaced. Such a configuration is inefficient for the operator and unattractive for the users, particularly if the prevailing passenger demand is unevenly distributed along the line. In such cases, it is more effective to tailor the scheduled services to passenger demand, both spatially and temporally. Public Transit agencies have increasingly adopted various stop and service pattern strategies in order to provide high-quality services while reducing operating costs. This study is focused on one such strategy, namely limited-stop operation. It proposes a new mathematical programming model to find the best candidate route stops for this strategy to minimize the total passenger travel time. The adopted approach consists of three steps: optimization, post-optimization, and simulation. An agent-based simulation platform, called Nexus, is used to represent real-life operating conditions, generate input data for the optimization model, enable post-optimization pattern recognition for grouping trips, and finally help assess the optimization results and present a best possible strategy. The developed approach is tested in a case study of a transit system in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Multiple analysis and algorithm test cases are demonstrated.


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