Contextual Bandit-Based Sequential Transit Route Design under Demand Uncertainty

Gyugeun Yoon, Joseph Y.J. Chow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While public transit network design has a wide literature, the study of line planning and route generation under uncertainty is not so well covered. Such uncertainty is present in planning for emerging transit technologies or operating models in which demand data is largely unavailable to make predictions on. In such circumstances, this paper proposes a sequential route generation process in which an operator periodically expands the route set and receives ridership feedback. Using this sensor loop, a reinforcement learning-based route generation methodology is proposed to support line planning for emerging technologies. The method makes use of contextual bandit problems to explore different routes to invest in while optimizing the operating cost or demand served. Two experiments are conducted. They (1) prove that the algorithm is better than random choice; and (2) show good performance with a gap of 3.7% relative to a heuristic solution to an oracle policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-625
Number of pages13
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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