Is Timetabling Routing Always Reliable for Public Transport?

Authors Donatella Firmani, Giuseppe F. Italiano, Luigi Laura, Federico Santaroni

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Donatella Firmani
Giuseppe F. Italiano
Luigi Laura
Federico Santaroni

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Donatella Firmani, Giuseppe F. Italiano, Luigi Laura, and Federico Santaroni. Is Timetabling Routing Always Reliable for Public Transport?. In 13th Workshop on Algorithmic Approaches for Transportation Modelling, Optimization, and Systems. Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 33, pp. 15-26, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2013)


Current route planning algorithms for public transport networks are mostly based on timetable information only, i.e., they compute shortest routes under the assumption that all transit vehicles (e.g., buses, subway trains) will incur in no delays throughout their trips. Unfortunately, unavoidable and unexpected delays often prevent transit vehicles to respect their originally planned schedule. In this paper, we try to measure empirically the quality of the solutions offered by timetabling routing in a real public transport network, where unpredictable delays may happen with a certain frequency, such as the public transport network of the metropolitan area of Rome. To accomplish this task, we take the time estimates required for trips provided by a timetabling-based route planner (such as Google Transit) and compare them against the times taken by the trips according to the actual tracking of transit vehicles in the transport network, measured through the GPS data made available by the transit agency. In our experiments, the movement of transit vehicles was only mildly correlated to the timetable, giving strong evidence that in such a case timetabled routing may fail to deliver optimal or even high-quality solutions.
  • Shortest Path Problems
  • Route Planning
  • Timetable-based Routing
  • Public Transport Networks


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