Designing an autonomous service to cover transit last mile in low-density areas

Principal Investigator(s):

Alireza Khani, Associate Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

Public transportation provides a safe, convenient, affordable, and eco-friendly mobility service. However, due to its fixed routes and limited network coverage, it is sometimes difficult or impossible for passengers to walk from a transit stop to their destination. This inaccessibility problem is also known as the "transit last-mile connectivity problem." Such a lack of connectivity forces travelers to drive and hence increase the vehicle ownership and Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) on roads. The autonomous mobility-on-demand (AMoD) service, with characteristics such as quick fleet repositioning and demand responsiveness, has the potential to provide coverage in low-density areas where the fixed-route transit can only provide limited coverage. Researchers are studying designing an AMoD service to solve the transit last-mile problem in low-density regions of Greater Minnesota. The project will explore two different alternatives for providing the last-mile service, namely, traditional fixed-route circulator and online demand-responsive autonomous service. Furthermore, researchers are surveying travelers in a focus area to estimate the induced (extra) demand for this new service. The work will employ techniques from state-of-the-art optimization and machine learning to optimize the system. By conducting this study, the project will pave a way for low-density Minnesota regions to adopt future mobility options.

Project details: