Transportation Innovation

Efficient Scheduling and Pricing for Public Transport

A service that provides optimal schedules and pricing policies based on the mobility patterns of commuters, to improve the operational efficiency of public transport networks.

Scheduling buses is an important factor in running the operations of public transport. The schedules of buses must be in sync with the demand for buses, to ensure optimal utilization and improved commuter satisfaction. The conventional pipeline of scheduling is to first estimate the travel patterns of users using a manual survey or by other automated means (ticketing data, mobile phone data, vision based methods, etc.), and then process the data to understand the mean behavior of the commuters. The travel patterns are then used to produce schedules in which buses make more trips during peak periods and the route between popular bus stops are served more often. In cities with large populations and limited infrastructure, the travel patterns and numbers can vary a lot between days. Hence, a schedule built on just the mean demand pattern may become irrelevant for a particular day, resulting in suboptimal utilization of resources, and commuter ire.

Rather than having a static schedule and pricing, the scheduling platforms should be able adapt the schedules and pricing to evolving demand patterns within a day.

Our Approach

We address the problem of demand-supply mismatch, by using a dual-pronged approach of dynamic scheduling and pricing. The dynamic system adapts schedules and pricing based on the demand patterns observed. The scheduling and pricing engine includes a module that predicts the demand pattern that would be observed in a day on the transit system. Through innovative optimization techniques, the alterations of schedules and prices are kept small, so that the commuters are not inconvenienced. The resulting dynamic schedules and pricing translate into substantial savings for the transit agencies while keeping the commuters happy.

Business Engagements

Multiple proof of concept studies on real and complex transit agencies in Latin America, Bhubaneswar, and Bangalore.

Technical Accomplishments

“Static and Dynamic Routing and Scheduling of Shared Transport," Patent Filed.
“Combining static and dynamic scheduling to optimize cost," Patent Filed.
“Dynamic and real time pricing of public Transport," Patent Filed.
“Differential pricing linked to service quality of transit agencies,” Patent Filed.

Scientific Impact

"Demand Sensitive Scheduling of Public Transport using past ticketing data," published in the 23rd World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), 2016.
"Static and dynamic scheduling to minimize passenger waiting times," published in the 95th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), 2016.
"Probabilistic Dependency Networks for Prediction and Diagnostics," published in the 94th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), 2015.