Scheduling zonal-based flexible bus service under dynamic stochastic demand and Time-dependent travel time

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - bus, mode - demand responsive transit, operations - frequency, operations - reliability, operations - scheduling, ridership - demand


Flexible bus, Stochastic dynamic demand, Demand responsive transit, Reliability


This paper schedules the zonal-based flexible bus service (ZBFBS) considering elastic stochastic demand, stochastic location, time-dependent travel time, and passenger time window constraints based on a scheduled-based formulation. Unlike a traditional time–space network that stipulates the precise arrival and departure times on specific nodes, a zonal-based time–space network is proposed to define the routes in terms of zonal visits of the flexible buses while allowing for flexibility in their arrival and departure times to cater for randomness. The ZBFBS scheduling problem is formulated as a two-stage decision-dependent stochastic problem with recourse. The first stage schedules the zonal visits of flexible buses and the second stage matches each passenger with either flexible bus or ad hoc service, with the latter incurring extra cost to carry the unmatched passengers. To effectively solve the problem, a state-augmented network, that integrates time and zone, is proposed to reduce the number of variables. Moreover, relaxation formulations based on vehicle types and routes are introduced, with an insertion heuristic implemented for vehicle scheduling. The problem is solved by a gradient-based solution approach. Numerical studies demonstrate the efficiency and quality of the solution methods under a variety of ride requests, as well as its advantage over the frequency-based approach in substantially reducing the ad hoc service cost. The applicability of the model is validated by solving an instance of Chengdu, China, with real data.


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


Transportation Research Part E Home Page: