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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  2. Many transit agencies operating paratransit and microtransit ser-vices have to respond to trip requests that arrive in real-time, which entails solving hard combinatorial and sequential decision-making problems under uncertainty. To avoid decisions that lead to signifi-cant inefficiency in the long term, vehicles should be allocated to requests by optimizing a non-myopic utility function or by batching requests together and optimizing a myopic utility function. While the former approach is typically offline, the latter can be performed online. We point out two major issues with such approaches when applied to paratransit services in practice. First, it is difficult to batch paratransit requests together as they are temporally sparse. Second, the environment in which transit agencies operate changes dynamically (e.g., traffic conditions can change over time), causing the estimates that are learned offline to become stale. To address these challenges, we propose a fully online approach to solve the dynamic vehicle routing problem (DVRP) with time windows and stochastic trip requests that is robust to changing environmental dynamics by construction. We focus on scenarios where requests are relatively sparse-our problem is motivated by applications to paratransit services. We formulate DVRP as a Markov decision process and use Monte Carlo tree search tomore »evaluate actions for any given state. Accounting for stochastic requests while optimizing a non-myopic utility function is computationally challenging; indeed, the action space for such a problem is intractably large in practice. To tackle the large action space, we leverage the structure of the problem to design heuristics that can sample promising actions for the tree search. Our experiments using real-world data from our partner agency show that the proposed approach outperforms existing state-of-the-art approaches both in terms of performance and robustness.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  3. Vehicle routing problems (VRPs) can be divided into two major categories: offline VRPs, which consider a given set of trip requests to be served, and online VRPs, which consider requests as they arrive in real-time. Based on discussions with public transit agencies, we identify a real-world problem that is not addressed by existing formulations: booking trips with flexible pickup windows (e.g., 3 hours) in advance (e.g., the day before) and confirming tight pickup windows (e.g., 30 minutes) at the time of booking. Such a service model is often required in paratransit service settings, where passengers typically book trips for the next day over the phone. To address this gap between offline and online problems, we introduce a novel formulation, the offline vehicle routing problem with online bookings. This problem is very challenging computationally since it faces the complexity of considering large sets of requests—similar to offline VRPs—but must abide by strict constraints on running time—similar to online VRPs. To solve this problem, we propose a novel computational approach, which combines an anytime algorithm with a learning-based policy for real-time decisions. Based on a paratransit dataset obtained from our partner transit agency, we demonstrate that our novel formulation and computational approachmore »lead to significantly better outcomes in this service setting than existing algorithms.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  4. During the Covid-19 pandemic a key role is played by vaccination to combat the virus. There are many possible policies for prioritizing vaccines, and different criteria for optimization: minimize death, time to herd immunity, functioning of the health system. Using an age-structured population compartmental finite-dimensional optimal control model, our results suggest that the eldest to youngest vaccination policy is optimal to minimize deaths. Our model includes the possible infection of vaccinated populations. We apply our model to real-life data from the US Census for New Jersey and Florida, which have a significantly different population structure. We also provide various estimates of the number of lives saved by optimizing the vaccine schedule and compared to no vaccination.

    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  5. The performance of multimodal mobility systems relies on the seamless integration of conventional mass transit services and the advent of Mobility-on-Demand (MoD) services. Prior work is limited to individually improving various transport networks' operations or linking a new mode to an existing system. In this work, we attempt to solve transit network design and pricing problems of multimodal mobility systems en masse. An operator (public transit agency or private transit operator) determines frequency settings of the mass transit system, flows of the MoD service, and prices for each trip to optimize the overall welfare. A primal-dual approach, inspired by the market design literature, yields a compact mixed integer linear programming (MILP) formulation. However, a key computational challenge remains in allocating an exponential number of hybrid modes accessible to travelers. We provide a tractable solution approach through a decomposition scheme and approximation algorithm that accelerates the computation and enables optimization of large-scale problem instances. Using a case study in Nashville, Tennessee, we demonstrate the value of the proposed model. We also show that our algorithm reduces the average runtime by 60% compared to advanced MILP solvers. This result seeks to establish a generic and simple-to-implement way of revamping and redesigning regionalmore »mobility systems in order to meet the increase in travel demand and integrate traditional fixed-line mass transit systems with new demand-responsive services.« less
  6. We study real-time routing policies in smart transit systems, where the platform has a combination of cars and high-capacity vehicles (e.g., buses or shuttles) and seeks to serve a set of incoming trip requests. The platform can use its fleet of cars as a feeder to connect passengers to its high-capacity fleet, which operates on fixed routes. Our goal is to find the optimal set of (bus) routes and corresponding frequencies to maximize the social welfare of the system in a given time window. This generalizes the Line Planning Problem, a widely studied topic in the transportation literature, for which existing solutions are either heuristic (with no performance guarantees), or require extensive computation time (and hence are impractical for real-time use). To this end, we develop a 1-1/e-ε approximation algorithm for the Real-Time Line Planning Problem, using ideas from randomized rounding and the Generalized Assignment Problem. Our guarantee holds under two assumptions: (i) no inter-bus transfers and (ii) access to a pre-specified set of feasible bus lines. We moreover show that these two assumptions are crucial by proving that, if either assumption is relaxed, the łineplanningproblem does not admit any constant-factor approximation. Finally, we demonstrate the practicality of our algorithmmore »via numerical experiments on real-world and synthetic datasets, in which we show that, given a fixed time budget, our algorithm outperforms Integer Linear Programming-based exact methods.« less