Theoretical maximum capacity as a benchmark for empty vehicle redistribution in Personal Rapid Transit

JD Lees-Miller, John Hammersley, RE Wilson

Research output: Working paper

35 Citations (Scopus)
506 Downloads (Pure)


A Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system uses compact, computer-guided vehicles running on dedicated guideways to carry individuals or small groups directly between pairs of stations. Vehicles move on demand when a passenger requests service at his/her origin station. Because the number of trips requested from a station need not equal the number of trips ending there, some vehicles must run empty to balance the flows. The empty vehicle redistribution (EVR) problem is to decide which empty vehicles to move, and when and where to move them; an EVR algorithm makes these decisions in real time, as passengers arrive and request service. This paper describes a method for finding the theoretical maximum demand (with a given spatial distribution) that a given system could serve with any EVR algorithm, which provides a benchmark against which particular EVR algorithms can be compared. The maximum passenger demand that a particular EVR algorithm can serve can be determined by simulation and then compared to the benchmark. The method is applied to two simple EVR heuristics on two example systems, and the results suggest that this is a useful method for determining the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of EVR heuristics across a range of networks, passenger demands and fleet sizes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Additional information: A preprint document later published in, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2146, 76–83.

Sponsorship: JDLM acknowledges the support of an Overseas Research Scholarship from the University of Bristol. REW acknowledges the support of an EPSRC Advanced Fellowship EP/E055567/1. This work was partly funded by the CityMobil Sixth Framework Programme for DG Research Thematic Priority 1.6, Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems, Integrated Project, Contract Number TIP5-CT-2006-031315.


  • Personal Rapid Transit
  • PRT
  • empty vehicle redistribution


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