Adaptive transit design: Optimizing fixed and demand responsive multi-modal transportation via continuous approximation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - urban, economics - operating costs, planning - integration, planning - methods, planning - service quality, planning - service improvement, ridership - demand


Urban transit, fixed-route (FR), demand-responsive (DR)


In most cities, transit consists solely of fixed-route transportation, whence the inherent limited Quality of Service for travellers in suburban areas and during off-peak periods. On the other hand, completely replacing fixed-route (FR) with demand-responsive (DR) transit would imply a huge operational cost. It is still unclear how to integrate DR transportation into current transit systems to take full advantage of it. We propose a Continuous Approximation model of a transit system that gets the best from fixed-route and DR transportation. Our model allows deciding whether to deploy a FR or a DR feeder, in each sub-region of an urban conurbation and each time of day, and to redesign the line frequencies and the stop spacing of the main trunk service. Since such a transit design can adapt to the spatial and temporal variation of the demand, we call it Adaptive Transit. Numerical results show that, with respect to conventional transit, Adaptive Transit significantly improves user-related cost, by drastically reducing access time to the main trunk service. Such benefits are particularly remarkable in the suburbs. Moreover, the generalized cost, including agency and user cost, is also reduced. These findings are also confirmed in scenarios with automated vehicles. Our model can assist in planning future-generation transit systems, able to improve urban mobility by appropriately combining fixed and DR transportation.


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


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