Agent-Driven Variable Pricing in Flexible Rural Transport Services
The fares that passengers are asked to pay for their journey have implications on such things as passenger transport choice, demand, cost recovery and revenue generation for the transport provider. Designing an efficient fare structure is therefore a fundamental problem, which can influence the type of transport options passengers utilise, and may determine whether or not a transport provider makes profit. Fixed pricing mechanisms (e.g., zonal based fares) are rigid and have generally been used to support flexible transport services; however, they do not reflect the cost of provision or quality of service offered. In this paper, we present a novel approach that incorporates variable pricing mechanisms into fare planning for flexible transport services in rural areas. Our model allows intelligent agents to vary the fares that passengers pay for their journeys on the basis of a number of constraints and externalities. We empirically evaluate our approach to demonstrate that variable pricing mechanisms can significantly improve the efficiency of transport systems in general, and rural transport in particular. Furthermore, we show that variable pricing significantly outperforms more rigid fixed price regimes.
Keywordsrural transport flexible transport agents fares variable pricing
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