IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Integrating short turning and deadheading in the optimization of transit services


  • Cortés, Cristián E.
  • Jara-Díaz, Sergio
  • Tirachini, Alejandro


Urban transit demand exhibits peaks in time and space, which can be efficiently served by means of different fleets, increasing frequencies in those groups of stops with larger passenger inflow. In this paper we develop a model that combines short turning and deadheading in an integrated strategy for a single transit line, where the optimization variables are both of a continuous and discrete nature: frequencies within and outside the high demand zone, vehicle capacities, and those stations where the strategy begins and ends. We show that closed solutions can be obtained for frequencies in some cases, which resembles the classical "square root rule". Unlike the existing literature that compares different strategies with a given normal operation (no strategy - single frequency), we use an optimized base case, in order to assess the potential benefits of the integrated strategy on a fair basis. We found that the integrated strategy can be justified in many cases with mixed load patterns, where unbalances within and between directions are observed. In general, the short turning strategy may yield large benefits in terms of total cost reductions, while low benefits are associated with deadheading, due to the extra cost of running empty vehicles in some sections.

Suggested Citation

  • Cortés, Cristián E. & Jara-Díaz, Sergio & Tirachini, Alejandro, 2011. "Integrating short turning and deadheading in the optimization of transit services," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(5), pages 419-434, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:45:y:2011:i:5:p:419-434

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mohring, Herbert, 1972. "Optimization and Scale Economies in Urban Bus Transportation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 591-604, September.
    2. Eberlein, Xu Jun & Wilson, Nigel H. M. & Barnhart, Cynthia & Bernstein, David, 1998. "The real-time deadheading problem in transit operations control," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 77-100, February.
    3. Oldfield, R. H. & Bly, P. H., 1988. "An analytic investigation of optimal bus size," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 319-337, October.
    4. Kraus, Marvin, 1991. "Discomfort externalities and marginal cost transit fares," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 249-259, March.
    5. Sergio Jara-Díaz & Antonio Gschwender, 2003. "Towards a general microeconomic model for the operation of public transport," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(4), pages 453-469, July.
    6. Alejandro Tirachini & Cristián Cortés & Sergio Jara-Díaz, 2011. "Optimal design and benefits of a short turning strategy for a bus corridor," Transportation, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 169-189, January.
    7. Leiva, Carola & Muñoz, Juan Carlos & Giesen, Ricardo & Larrain, Homero, 2010. "Design of limited-stop services for an urban bus corridor with capacity constraints," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 44(10), pages 1186-1201, December.
    8. Vijayaraghavan, T. A. S. & Anantharamaiah, K. M., 1995. "Fleet assignment strategies in urban transportation using express and partial services," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 157-171, March.
    9. Delle Site, Paolo & Filippi, Francesco, 1998. "Service optimization for bus corridors with short-turn strategies and variable vehicle size," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 19-38, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Tirachini, Alejandro & Hensher, David A., 2011. "Bus congestion, optimal infrastructure investment and the choice of a fare collection system in dedicated bus corridors," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 45(5), pages 828-844, June.
    2. Ibarra-Rojas, O.J. & Delgado, F. & Giesen, R. & Muñoz, J.C., 2015. "Planning, operation, and control of bus transport systems: A literature review," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 38-75.
    3. Alejandro Tirachini & David Hensher & Michiel Bliemer, 2014. "Accounting for travel time variability in the optimal pricing of cars and buses," Transportation, Springer, vol. 41(5), pages 947-971, September.
    4. Chen, Jingxu & Liu, Zhiyuan & Zhu, Senlai & Wang, Wei, 2015. "Design of limited-stop bus service with capacity constraint and stochastic travel time," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 1-15.
    5. Nayan, Ashish & Wang, David Z.W., 2017. "Optimal bus transit route packaging in a privatized contracting regime," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 146-157.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:45:y:2011:i:5:p:419-434. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.