Enhancing the service quality of transit systems in rural areas by flexible transport services

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Public transit services in rural areas need to be innovative to satisfy variable demand. In addition, travel demand is low and residents may have different destinations. Furthermore, rural communities vary widely within regions. Therefore, it is inadvisable to run a fixed schedule transit service. Government and local authorities have attempted to maintain public transit services in rural areas and improve accessibility to these services. Dial-a-Ride (DAR) systems are a form of flexible transportation for better service in rural areas by covering a relatively large area with respect to potential demand. The complexity of the problem makes the DAR problem an NP-hard problem, whose optimal solution is difficult to find in cases of medium- and large-sized problems. As a result, most paper handling solution methods for a DAR problem are based on heuristic methods. Here, we provide a solution for the DAR service problem based on a mixed-integer formulation. This study mainly discusses enhancing transit service in rural areas with complex road network topographies where fixed services are less available or are cost ineffective. In addition, we discuss improving service quality with respect to different user types. More attention is paid to considering the social side cost by minimizing not only operating costs but also the total travel times of all travelers. Computational experiments based on real-life data from a locality in Gifu Prefecture, Japan were carried out to test the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm. The results show decreased mean waiting time and excess ride time by considering user costs.

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Saeed, K., & Kurauchi, F. (2015). Enhancing the service quality of transit systems in rural areas by flexible transport services. In Transportation Research Procedia (Vol. 10, pp. 514–523). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trpro.2015.09.005

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