The commuter rail circulator network design problem: formulation, solution methods, and applications



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Commuter rail is increasingly popular as a means to introduce rail transportation to metropolitan transportation systems. The long-term benefits of commuter rail include the addition of capacity to the transportation system, providing a quality commute alternative, and shifting land use toward transit-oriented development patterns. The success of a commuter rail system depends upon cultivating a ridership base upon which to expand and improve the system. Cultivating this ridership is dependent upon offering a quality transportation option to commuters. Characteristics of commuter rail systems in the United States present challenges to offering quality service that must be overcome. Commuter rail has been implemented only on existing rail right-of-way (ROW) and infrastructure (depending upon condition) in the United States. Existing rail ROW does not often coincide with current commercial and residential demand centers and necessitates the use of a circulator system to expand the service boundary of commuter rail to reach these demand centers. The commuter rail circulator network design problem (CRCNDP) addresses a particular aspect of the commuter rail trip, seeking to improve the performance of the entire system through accurately modeling the portion of the trip from rail station to the final destination. This final leg includes both the trip on the circulator vehicle and the walking trip from the circulator stop to the final destination. This dissertation seeks to provide an innovative mathematical programming formulation and solution methodology for the CRCNDP and apply this method to a case study.