, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 1039–1061 | Cite as

Agent-based optimisation of public transport supply and pricing: impacts of activity scheduling decisions and simulation randomness

  • Ihab Kaddoura
  • Benjamin Kickhöfer
  • Andreas Neumann
  • Alejandro Tirachini


The optimal setting of public transport pricing and supply levels has been traditionally analysed with analytical models that combine the objectives of users, service providers and decision makers in optimisation problems. In this paper, public transport fare and headway are jointly optimised using an activity-based simulation framework. Unlike traditional analytical models that find single optimal values for headway, fare and other optimisation variables, we obtain a range of values for the optimal fare and headway, due to the randomness in user behaviour that is inherent to an agent-based approach. Waiting times and implications of an active bus capacity constraint are obtained on an agent-by-agent basis. The maximisation of operator profit or social welfare result in different combinations of the most likely optimal headway and fare. We show that the gap between welfare and profit optimal solutions is smaller when users can adjust their departure time according to their activities, timetabling and convenience of the public transport service.


Agent-based simulation Randomness Public transport supply Optimal pricing Social welfare Operator profit 



We are indebted to Kai Nagel for his helpful comments and support to the development of this project and to three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. Alejandro Tirachini acknowledges support from Fondecyt, Chile (Grant 11130227) and the Complex Engineering Systems Institute (Grants ICM P-05-004-F, CONICYT FBO16). Previous versions of this paper were presented at the Kuhmo-Nectar Conference on Transportation Economics in Berlin, July 2012 (Kickhöfer et al. 2012) and the Latsis Symposium in Lausanne, September 2012 (Kaddoura et al. 2012).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ihab Kaddoura
    • 1
  • Benjamin Kickhöfer
    • 1
  • Andreas Neumann
    • 1
  • Alejandro Tirachini
    • 2
  1. 1.Transport Systems Planning and Transport TelematicsTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Transport Engineering Division, Civil Engineering DepartmentUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile

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