Research Article  Open Access
Optimal SkipStop Schedule under Mixed Traffic Conditions for Minimizing Travel Time of Passengers
Abstract
Given the lower efficiency resulting from the overload of bus stops, the capacity and travel time of passengers influenced by skipstop operation are analyzed under mixed traffic conditions, and the travel time models of buses and cars are developed, respectively. This paper proposes an optimization model for designing skipstop service that can minimize the total travel time for passengers. Genetic algorithm is adopted for finding the optimal coordination of the stopping stations of overall bus lines in an urban bus corridor. In this paper, TianMuShan Road of Hangzhou City is taken as an example. Results show that the total travel time of all travelers becomes 7.03 percent shorter after the implementation of skipstop operation. The optimization scheme can improve the operating efficiency of the road examined.
1. Introduction
In the recent years, with the rapid development of public transport, bus stops face an increasing pressure especially during peak hours, their efficiency decreases continuously, and even serious traffic congestion occurs frequently. The fundamental reason for the above problems is that bus demand exceeds the capacity of bus stops, resulting in some buses waiting in the travel lane until the buses occupying the berth entrance. This not only decreases the level of public transit service but also increases the impact between buses and cars at the location of bus stops on the road without exclusive bus lane. With skipstop bus services that serve only a subset of stops along certain routes, this problem can be alleviated without technological improvement. For bus passengers, skipstop services mean improved service levels in the form of lower travel time due to fewer stops and higher betweenstop speed. When the skipstop schedule is adopted by buses, it will reduce the impact of stopping buses on the cars at the location of bus stops, which will increase the car users’ travel speed. In actual practice, skipstop services in systems such as Transmilenio (Bogota, Colombia) and Metro Rapid (Los Angeles, CA, USA) have been proven to be highly effective [1–3]. In China, Shanghai and Shenzhen have also started implementing this operating strategy. However, most cities in China use regular service which is the allstop operational scheme considering the operational complexity and lack of methodology in modeling an optimal operational scheme.
The literature has a considerable amount of work on the transit operation optimization. Eberlein [4] formulated the stopskipping problem as an integer nonlinear programming model with both quadratic objective functions and constraints. The realtime scheduling strategy aiming to strike an optimal balance between the benefits of operators and passengers was formulated by Fu et al. [5]. In this study, the problem is again formulated as a nonlinear 01 integer programming problem. Leiva et al. [3] developed an optimization method for designing skipstop services that minimize the social costs of a segregated bus lane assuming known trip demand. An optimization method is proposed for designing skipstop services which minimize both the travel time for passengers and the operating cost of an urban bus corridor by optimizing the transport services with different arriving frequencies of various types of buses [6]. In addition, Ceder and Wilson [7], Fan and Machemehl [8], and Mauttone and Urquhart [9] determined a set of routes and their respective frequencies by minimizing the sum of users and transit operator costs in a given network and trip demand OD matrix.
In those studies, the optimization methods are developed inside the transit system, while ignoring the interaction of private and transit vehicle flows. However, there are some roads without exclusive bus lanes in the cities of China. Ignoring this will lead to inaccurate estimates of travel time. Moreover, most of the previous studies were done only for a congested bus line, and they lack the analysis of the overall bus lines that passed by the stops. With these arguments as motivation, this study proposes an optimization method for designing skipstop services that can minimize the total travel time for passengers under mixed traffic conditions by analyzing the mutual influence between buses and cars, and it uses genetic algorithm to find the optimal coordination of the stop stations of bus lines based on the objective function.
The following notations are used in describing the models in this paper: is the capacity of link; is the basic traffic capacity; is the adjustment factor for bus stops; is the impacting time by bus stops, which is determined by the number of stopping buses at this stop; is the probability of no bus being serviced; is the average dwell time of buses; is the average bus arrival rate; is the average arrival rate of buses that stopped at this stop. is the number of loading areas; is the number of lanes in one direction, ; is the average travel time of vehicle on link ; is the freeflow travel time on link ; is the volume of traffic on link ; are parameters; is the index of bus line, ; is the set of all bus lines in the network; is the set of all links in the network; is the set of all stations stopped and skipped by bus line ; is the bus volume or car volume on link ; is the invehicle travel time on link by mode car; is the invehicle travel time on link by mode bus; is the average number of passengers on bus line on link ; is the average number of passengers on car; is the total waiting time for passengers at stop , which includes alighting and transferring at stop ; is the set of all links where bus line runs; is the number of passengers on buses of line at stop ; is the dwell time of buses of line at stop ; is the number of passengers boarding buses of line at stop ; is the number of passengers alighting buses of line at stop ; is the waiting time of passengers boarding buses of line at stop ; is the decision variables to indicate stop status of bus line at stop , which is equal to 1 if bus line stops at station and 0 otherwise; is the distance between station and ; is the schedule frequency of bus line ; is the time of door opening and closing (s); is passenger boarding time (s/p); is passenger alighting time (s/p); is the transfer penalty; is the number of buses stopping at stop with skipstop operation; is the capacity of stop , from Table 1 [1].
 
Assuming 15 s clearance time, 25 percent queue probability, 60 percent coefficient of variation of dwell times, and 0.5 g/C. 
2. Travel Time Model under Mixed Traffic Conditions
The travel time depends on the traffic volume and capacity of links, which is influenced by the number of stopping buses at a stop station under mixed traffic conditions. The BPR (Bureau of Public Roads) function, the most classic model, describes the link performance, which states the relationship between resistance and traffic volume [10]. In this section, the impact of bus stops on the link capacity is analyzed, and then the model of computing travel time is established based on the data of simulation runs.
2.1. Link Capacity
Curbside bus stops interfere with traffic flows, as the buses stop in the travel lane, resulting in a “bottleneck” (the reduction in the road width) at the location of the stops. Bus bays interfere with passing vehicles primarily, while buses maneuver to pull into and out of the stops. In general, the capacity is calculated by adding adjustment factor for bus stops [1], as follows:
When all passing buses stop at this stop, the impacting time is determined by the numbers of loading areas and passengers getting on and off buses. If the bus stop is considered as a queuing system, the probability of no bus being serviced can be calculated by the following equation [11]:
So the impacting time by bus stops is calculated by
When skipstop service is adopted, there are two possible scenarios at stops in a skipstop operation There is no bus being serviced when skipstopped bus arrives at this stop. There is one or more buses being serviced when skipstopped bus arrives at this stop. In the first scenario, the bus passes directly through with no impact on the capacity of the adjacent lane. In the second scenario, the bus would pass buses being serviced on the curb lane. The lane changing behavior will affect the operation of the vehicle in the adjacent lane and result in the dropping of capacity. According to HCM2000, the affecting time is 4 seconds when one bus uses the adjacent lane.
The probability of the first scenario is determined by the number of buses stopped at this stop, which is computed by the following equation:
The impacting time in a skipstop operation is approximately calculated using
Therefore, the capacity of links influenced by bus stops is calculated by
2.2. Simulation Model Development and Validation
The classic BPR function is calibrated using the traffic data of highway. Therefore, the parameters need to be recalibrated when BPR function is used to describe the performance of urban roads. It is difficult to survey traffic operating data under various conditions. So the parameters of BPR function are calibrated using the simulated data in this paper.
Based on the paper’s objectives as well as the required details in the analysis, VISSIM (version 4.2) is employed in this paper. The simulation model is developed using VISSIM based on the surveyed data. For the purpose of model validation, the mean speed of values cars and buses observed on the field and simulated by VISSIM are compared. The comparison results of different types of vehicles are shown in Table 2.

A paired ttest of null hypothesis of nomean difference is performed to check for the match between simulated and observed average speed of values vehicles. The calculated value of is 0.6095 against the critical values (from “” table) of 1.648. It is found that the observed and simulated average speed values agree at 5% level of significance (95% confidence limit). It can be seen that the simulated speed values significantly replicate the observed field speed for all vehicle types, and the VISSIM model can be applied to study the characteristics of traffic flow on urban road links.
2.3. Calibration of Travel Time Model
The BPR function is expressed as follows [10]:
In order to improve the reliability of VISSIM model, the simulation runs are made with random number seeds ranging from 41 to 45, and the average of the five values is taken as the final model output. The travel time outputted from the model is as shown in Figure 1.
In this paper, BPR model is calibrated by the method of Leastsquares. First, BPR model should be deformed as a linear function by logarithmic transformation [12].
Denoting by , by , by , and by , then (8) is transformed to
Second, these above data are transformed to and . Third, the values of and are estimated by the method of leastsquares; then, the values and are 4.2 and 0.87, respectively. Therefore, the travel time of cars is obtained when there is an online curbside bus stop on the road, as shown in the following:
3. SkipStop Design Model Formulation
As indicated in the previous studies, the skipstop problem can be formulated as a nonlinear 01 integer programming problem, with the binary integer variables representing which stops to be skipped by the control vehicles. In this study, for the purpose of solving the exact problem, the stopskipping problem will be formulated again as a nonlinear 01 integer programming problem.
3.1. Assumptions
In order to analyze the process, the following assumptions are made in this study.(1)The total travel demand between any origin and destination node pair (OD matrix) is fixed and remains the same during the analysis period. It is assumed that the travel demand is not affected by the introduction of skipstop operation. (2)There are only two modes of traffic (buses and cars) utilizing the network.(3)Dwell time at each stop is determined by the number of passengers getting on and off the bus.(4)Passengers are uniformly distributed throughout the area.(5)A passenger would not leave the platform, and she or he would not wait more than two times.
3.2. SkipStop Design Models under Mixed Traffic Conditions
Run time models are usually used in understanding the existing service and evaluating several transit planning and operation strategies [13, 14]. So the objective function is denoted as follows: s.t.
The first term in the objective function is the total travel time by buses, which includes invehicle travel time and total waiting time. The next term represents the total travel time by cars. Equation (12) includes two components. The first component is the sum of waiting time of boarding and invehicle passengers when buses of line make a stop , while the second component is the transfer time of passengers with either their origin or destination stop being skipped. Equation (13) indicates that the average waiting time and the transfer time of passengers boarding buses of line at the stop are equal to half the headway of bus line assuming random arrival. Equation (14) estimates the bus dwell time at each stop based on the number of passengers who will board and alight at the stop, denoted by and , respectively. Equation (15) shows that the number of buses stopping at the stop depends on the schedule frequency of bus line and whether the bus line will make stop . Equation (16) states that the number of passengers on buses of line at stop is equal to the number of passengers on buses of line at stop plus the number of passengers boarding buses of line at stop minus the number of passengers alighting buses of line at stop . The decision variable is by which the system managers try to minimize their objective function (). Equation (18) specifies that two adjacent stops are not both skipped by any bus line. Equation (19) ensures that the number of buses stopping at stop cannot exceed its capacity.
4. Optimization Process Using Genetic Algorithm
The proposed model is a nonlinear programming problem which associates the zeroone variables, and the parameters are tightly related to each other. It is hardly solved with conventional solution methods. The genetic algorithm (GA) is a heuristic search method that imitates the process of natural evolution [15]. It is motivated by the principles of natural selection and survival of the fittest individuals. This method is commonly used to generate useful solutions to optimization problems [16]. Therefore, the genetic algorithm is used to solve the bilevel programming model and find the optimal coordination of the stopping stations in order to minimize inconveniences for passengers. Based on the above analysis, the procedure for finding an optimal scenario is presented, as shown in Figure 2.
For the genetic algorithm, each gene location in a chromosome represents a possible skipstop choice, while the vehicles of bus line traverse every station shown in Figure 3, where “1” indicates stops and “0” indicates skips at the corresponding station. In Figure 3, a chromosome is divided into independent parts. Each part indicates the corresponding operation choices for every bus line.
5. Case Study
5.1. Traffic Survey
This paper takes TianMuShan Road (from WanTang Road to ZhongShan Road) as an example, which is a heavydemand corridor of Hangzhou City. The examined period is the morning peak. The traffic volume and the number of passengers getting on and off at 11 stops are collected, as shown in Tables 3 and 4.


5.2. Results
Parameters values of the model and the algorithm are shown as follows: the population of chromosomes (individuals) for each generation , the crossover probability , the mutation probability , the biggest generation GenMax = 200, m/s^{2}, and . The optimization process is programmed using MATLAB software. Then, these data of Tables 3 and 4 are input to program, and an optimal scenario is outputted, as shown in Figure 4 and Table 5.
 
Note that “1” represents stopping, “0” represents skipping, and “—” represents not passing by. 
The travel times of all travelers before and after the optimization are compared, as shown in Table 6. It can be seen that the travel time of car travelers becomes 12.86 percent shorter than that with original allstop operation, and the travel time of bus travelers reduces 6.36 percent due to skipping stations at the same time. The total travel time of all travelers becomes 7.03 percent shorter after the implementation of skipstop operation. Results show that the optimization scheme can improve the overall operating efficiency of road network.

6. Conclusions
The flow capacity is adjusted at the section of stop zone based on the analysis of the mutual influence between buses and cars at bus stops. BPR function including the modified capacity is calibrated using traffic simulation. Then, this paper proposes an optimization model for designing skipstop service that can minimize the total travel time of passengers under mixed traffic conditions. The genetic algorithm is used to find the optimal coordination of the stopping stations of overall bus lines in an urban bus corridor. The validation of the model and the algorithm have been proved with the help of a realworld case. Results show that the operational efficiency of buses and cars is improved with skipstop operation under mixed traffic conditions. Although skipstop operation is complicated for the operators and it can confuse passengers at the beginning of the service, it can certainly reduce passengers’ total travel time. It should be noted that the dwell time of a bus is assumed to be based on the number of passengers boarding and alighting, as a matter of fact, which is also influenced by the number of stopping buses at the stop. Therefore, an interesting project for future research would be to propose an optimization method for designing skipstop services with the consideration of the bus operating features at stops.
Conflict of Interests
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.
Acknowledgment
This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 51278454).
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Copyright
Copyright © 2013 Sun Feng et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.