Using Simulators to assess On-Demand Microtransit

Posted by Richard Doody on Jun 27, 2018 2:43:40 PM

Using Simulators to assess On-Demand Microtransit

Setting up an on-demand micro-transit operation is a significant commitment of time and money so it pays to do your homework as much as possible and get On-Demand right the first time. One of the best ways to do this is with a simulation that can model various service scenarios and provide performance metrics like wait time and cost per trip for each scenario. Simulations can address the important concerns municipalities and transit agencies have when setting up and on-demand service.

Service Quality vs Service Cost?

One of the top concerns we experience from municipalities and transit agencies is the need to understand the relationship between service cost and service quality, when it comes to On-Demand Microtransit. A good simulation will show the correlation between service quality and service costs for a variety of ridership levels and fleet sizes.  

The simulator will model your existing ridership but also model for a range of higher and lower ridership so you can see how those ridership figures might effect your fleet needs and service levels. For on-demand modelling the simulator will use the existing transit data to randomly generate pick ups and drop offs within the geographic area of the service. Rides should be scheduled as soon as possible after the pickup request to model on-demand accurately

Simulations test different combinations of vehicles to optimise fleet utilisation. Vehicle capacity, vehicle origin and the duration of the service period can be set according to the specifics of the municipality or transit agency.

GTS’s Dynamic Shuttle assigns rides dynamically based on service parameters and ride requests. Our simulator uses the same optimisation algorithm as our Dynamic Shuttle software to model how the service would work in practice, generating an itinerary of pickups and drop-offs. Using ridership data provided by the municipality or transit agency, GTS’s simulator outputs a matrix of results that shows the correlation between Service Cost and Service Quality.

What are the outputs of a simulator?

For service quality the results show how the average wait time, the worst case wait time and the average ride duration are effected by the number of vehicles used to provide the service. This allows transit planners to see what the effect of adding more vehicles is to the quality of the service. The transit planner can then decide an average/worst case wait time they’re happy with and optimise their fleet accordingly.

To review service cost the simulator provides information on the average number of miles travelled per vehicle, how many hours the vehicle was generating revenue, and the number of rides served per vehicle per hour.  Using the service cost and service quality outputs in tandem allows a transit planner to make informed choices about how to manage the trade-off between these competing priorities.

What a simulator can tell you?

By modelling demand across a variety of scenarios a good simulator will allow a municipality or transit agency to be confident they know:

  • How many rides can be served with a given fleet size
  • How long on average the riders will wait for service
  • How long on average the riders journeys will take
  • What would be the worst case scenario for wait time and journey time
  • If demand spikes by 50% or 100% what would be the effect on rider experience and how many vehicles would have to be added to maintain desired service levels.
  • What is the relationship between service cost and service quality?

To see how simulators fit into the wider picture of making a success of your microtransit service.

If you’d like to know more about how GTS’s simulator can help you answer the important questions you have about on-demand microtransit please contact us or book a meeting with an On-Demand consultant today.

Topics: Simulation, On-Demand, Micro Transit, Dynamic Shuttle

Written by Richard Doody