Travel demand management: The solution to public transit congestion? An ex-ante evaluation of staggered work hours schemes for the Paris region

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - rail, operations - crowding, policy - congestion, ridership - demand, planning - methods, planning - travel demand management


Travel demand management, staggered work hours (SWH), congestion


This paper investigates the congestion relief potential of staggered work hours (SWH) schemes for public transit. An ex-ante evaluation framework is developed, which combines a hybrid assignment model with a travel demand management module to simulate the impact of SWH schemes on travel demand and public transit congestion. The key performance indicators capture not only congestion relief benefits, but also rescheduling costs for users. The methodology is applied to the RER A heavy rail line in Paris, the busiest public transit line in Europe. We find that SWH schemes generate congestion relief benefits, as intended, even matching up to telework policies. Yet, such benefits remain moderate, adding up to 20% of total crowding costs for the morning peak period at most. Moreover, substantial rescheduling costs are involved: decreasing the total time standing by 1 h implies shifting fifteen trips by the same amount of time. Regarding policy design, our results suggest that shifting few users by a large amount of time is usually more efficient than shifting many users by a smaller amount of time; the latter may even prove counterproductive by merely transferring the peak to some other time in the morning. We also find for the RER A that focusing the SWH scheme on a single station - the biggest trip attractor - yields benefits similar to applying the scheme over the whole line (for a similar level of effort in terms of total timeshift). The developed framework is intended to provide guidance as how to improve the design of future SWH schemes, in particular in times of social distancing and need for reduced crowding.


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


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