OPTIBUS is focused on the planning process of a transport association (Verkehrsverbund) in its function as planner and initiator of transport services, concentrating specifically on regional bus services.
The result of such a planning process is a framework of bus routes that lays out the key requirements for the subsequent detailed and individual route planning process. In particular, this framework is the basis for the invitation of tenders that complete the planning process initiated by the transport association, by letting interested companies add operational objectives such as vehicle and personnel rostering to obtain their actual time tables. - This, however, is no longer within the scope of the OPTIBUS project.
The OPTIBUS project develops an alternative to the strictly supply-oriented planning approach practiced today for public transportation services. To this end, data sources will be tapped that allow the total demand to be modelled, thus including potential future users of public services. In contrast to common approaches, OPTIBUS will evaluate and employ optimization techniques developed for transportation logistics, using heuristic approaches to find initial solutions and metaheuristics to improve these further. These methods will be integrated in a planning tool that will be implemented to a prototypical stage within the project and can be used to calculate the frameworks of routes mentioned before. The requirement is to cover both the basic service level as well as the large target-groups of pupils and commuters.
Thus the goals of OPTIBUS can be refined and summarized as follows:
- To develop an innovative prototypical planning tool with the help of which a framework of routes can be established that meets all legal requirements, is both flexible and optimized, and can serve as a basis for the subsequent detailed planning of regional bus routes.
- To specify the requirements for a portal-based solution to collect information about the (potential) demand for pupil and commuter transportation.
- To evaluate the applicability of such a system from both the technical and organisational perspective with the help of a selected pilot-region.
OPTIBUS will contribute to the more efficient and flexible planning of public transportation services. With respect to the future development of mobility it will offer an approach for the possibility of customer participation and thus give the attractiveness of public transport a welcomed boost in the medium-term future.