Complexity in Public Transport



The recent adoption of smart cards and mobile phone technologies in public transport provides ample opportunities to understand passenger behavior in far more precision than previously possible. The current PhD projects on this topic study the complexity of emergent passenger behavior in public transport, especially the passengers’ sensitivity to strategic and real-time changes in the public transport system. The projects also examine how the resulting understanding can be used to achieve a win-win result for passengers and Public Transport Operators (PTOs). The main research question is as follows:
How to analyze and model passenger behavior in public transport, and how to take this into account most effectively, both in the planning stage and in disrupted real-time operations?

Three main topics within this project are:

  • Obtaining a detailed insight into passenger behavior in public transport by analyzing and combining real-life datasets as resulting from e.g. the introduction of the smart card.
  • Applying agent-based simulation models to combine individual passenger behavior into aggregated passenger flows, thereby considering emergent passenger behavior.
  • Developing mathematical optimization models for revenue management and disruption management, where passenger behavior is incorporated effectively.
This multi-disciplinary project is carried out together with Netherlands Railways (NS) and a large team of experts from in and outside the Erasmus University.
On September 6th experts from business and science will come together to present and discuss their view on the topic of Complexity in Public Transport. From their respective fields of expertise they will present their vision on the theme of Complexity in Public Transport. Each presentation is followed by a short plenary discussion.
About the presenters:
Erwin Abbink, M.Sc
In 1995, Erwin Abbink graduated in Econometrics at the University of Groningen. In 2000 he obtained a M.Sc. degree in Information and Knowledge Technology at Middlesex University in London. Currently, he is a senior R&D consultant Decision Support Systems & Advanced Analytics of Netherlands Railways. He is involved in several projects related to disruption management for railway systems, and to monitoring of passenger flows by real-time ICT techniques. Based on his work, he has published papers in journals like Transportation Science, Interfaces, and Public Transport. Currently, Erwin Abbink is completing his Ph.D. thesis on Railway Crew (Re-)scheduling.
Prof. Kai Nagel
Kai Nagel is professor of Planning of Transport Systems and Transport Telematics at the Berlin Institute of Technology (TU Berlin). He holds masters degrees in Physics and Oceanology/Meteorology, and he obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1994. He is one of the front runners in the area of large scale multiagent traffic flow simulations and in multi-agent travel behavior. Prof. Nagel is section editor for “Traffic and Environment” of the journal “Advances of Complex Systems”. His current research includes the adaptation of MATSIM, an agentbased simulation model that was originally developed for large scale car traffic simulations, to public transport environments.
Prof. Aura Reggiani
Aura Reggiani is professor of Economic Policy at the Department of Economics of the University of
Bologna, Italy. She obtained her Ph.D. in Spatial Economics from the Free University of Amsterdam in 1990. She is a specialist in spatial and transport economics, with a particular view on the study on network evolution and complexity, both from a theoretical point of view and from an empirical point of view. In these fields she has led several National and European research projects. Prof. Reggiani has been a fellow of the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences since 1991, working on network dynamics and evolutionary theories.
Prof. Peter Vervest
Peter Vervest is professor of Business Networks at RSM/EUR. He is specialized in complex business network analysis. He studied Law and Management Science, and he obtained his Ph.D. cum laude in 1986 at the Technical University Delft on the subject Electronic Mail and Message Handling Systems. Prof. Vervest has published extensively and authored several books such as recently “The Network
Experience” (Springer, 2009). He has been the chairman of the Expert Group of Netherlands Railways to oversee the implementation of the Dutch nationwide smart card in public transport. He initiated the development of “IRIS”, a simulation system for analyzing passenger movements in public transport.
Contact information:
Prof. P. Vervest                                             E. van der Hurk
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