Monday, March 12, 2012

The methodology of multiple criteria decision making/aiding in public transportation.

This article discusses the use of the Multi Criteria Decision Matrix (MCDM) technique as it applies to public transportation decisions.  The author uses the case study in the article to highlight the usage of the MCDM technique for the development of a mass transit system on Poland.

In the article the author presented a case study that dealt with the development scenarios of the mass transit system in Czestochowa, Poland.  The municipal authorities wanted to know what the expectations and requirements the passengers had of the system.  The MCDM methodology was used to focus the analysis on the passengers’ expectations.  The interests of the municipal authorities were not represented.  The evaluation criteria that was selected for the study included:
  • Waiting time: average time spent waiting at the initial stop
  •  Riding time: time required to cover the distance of an average trip
  •  Timeliness: number of rides that are out of schedule per 1000
  • Reliability: number of rides cancelled that are out of a schedule per 1000
  •  Situational safety: number of threats (vandalism, etc.) per 100 rides
  • Transferring frequency: quotient of the total number of rides and the total number of travels
  • Comfort of travel: percentage share of rides carried out in very good conditions (uncrowded and clean vehicles)
  • Financial efficiency: quotient of the total income generated by the mass transit system to its total cost
  • Investment profitability: internal rate of return
Four courses of action for the mass transit system were developed.  The courses of action included:
  • Variant 0: Continue current passive investment in the transportation system 
  • Variant 1: Embrace the renovations and extensions of the existing tramway transportation system and a certain reduction of the bus transportation system
  • Variant 2: Focus on a substantial extension and improvement of the bus transportation system
  • Variant 3: Focus on the introduction of a light rail transportation system, with a substantial reduction of the bus system and a modernization of the tramway system
To evaluate the courses of action the researchers used the ELECTRE III method, which essentially is a pairwise comparison of the criteria to determine a ranking.  Based on the ranking produced by the ELECTRE III method and the values provided for the criteria variant 1 and variant 2 were determined to be the most desired options.

This article demonstrated a practical application of the MCDM model.  The methodology allows decision makers to take into account different aspects and consider the viewpoints of different stakeholders and consider multiple problems in order to arrive at a decision.    

Zak, J. (2011). The methodology of multiple criteria decision making/aiding in public transportation. Journal of Advanced Transportation , 45 (1), pp. 1-20.


  1. This is really interesting. I am curious to know if MCDM is a popular technique for other cities planning public transportation?

  2. I'd be willing to bet these methodologies see more use for this particular kind of decision in Europe, which is both known for reliance on public transportation and is also, coincidentally, the original source of the ELECTRE variant methodology.