A simulation-based optimization approach for designing transit networks

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - africa, place - urban, planning - network design, planning - integration, planning - methods, ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, ridership - demand


Simulation-based optimization, Transit network design, Activity-based modeling, Multi-objective optimization, Metaheuristics


Public transport network design deals with finding efficient network solution(s) from a set of alternatives that best satisfies the often-conflicting objectives of stakeholders like passengers and operators. This work presents a simulation-based optimization (SBO) model for designing public transport networks. The work’s novelty is in developing such a network design model that fully accounts for the stochastic behavior of commuters on the transit network. The SBO discipline solves decision-based problems like the transit network design problem (TNDP) by combining simulation and optimization models. The proposed model integrates a disaggregated activity-based travel demand simulation with a multi-objective network optimization algorithm. Trip-based travel demand models are commonly used to represent traveler behavior in the literature. The approach limits its ability to accommodate the stochastic realities of traveler behavior in a transit network design solution. Using activity-based simulation instead makes it possible to account for a more realistic traveler behavior, especially real-time decisions made in response to changing network dynamics which ultimately affect the distribution of demand over time on the network. The proposed model is applied to the improved design of the integrated public transport network in the City of Cape Town, South Africa. The results show SBO can design efficient network solutions that reflect the objectives of network stakeholders.


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