Walking school bus line routing for efficiency, health and walkability:A multi‐objective optimisation approach

Wang, Judith Y. T. and Wu, Zhengyu and Kang, Yating and Brown, Edward and Wen, Mengfan and Rushton, Christopher and Ehrgott, Matthias (2023) Walking school bus line routing for efficiency, health and walkability:A multi‐objective optimisation approach. Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis. ISSN 1057-9214

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Walking School Bus (WSB) has been recognised as an innovative solution to promote walking to school, bringing a wide spectrum of benefits, including: health benefits from the physical exercise, social skills and traffic reduction. To facilitate the success of WSB, one vital element is its route planning, which directly affects the catchment for the service and the realisation of all the potential benefits. Previously, time has been the only factor that has been considered in WSB routing problems. Other important factors including air quality, safety and comfort will also be considered in this paper. Air quality along a WSB route is important to help realise the health benefits of walking. Traffic safety has been the biggest barrier to walking to school and must be addressed in planning a WSB route. Ensuring children have an enjoyable and comfortable experience is vital for the sustainability and success of WSB. A walking network is introduced to enable modelling pedestrian movements in detail, including walking movements on different sides of the road and crossing movements. This approach enables detailed route‐based analysis to assess the localised effect of air quality on pollutant dose. We define walkability as a measure of children's needs in safety and comfort, which can also be assessed in detail on each route. We propose a multi‐objective optimisation model to generate efficient WSB routes with three objectives representing the potential benefits of WSB: (1) to minimise time; (2) to minimise pollutant dose; and (3) to maximise walkability. We apply our model to a selected school in Bradford in the UK, generating three WSB lines following efficient routes. These lines go through a predetermined sequence of ‘WSB Stops’, with the final stop as the school. All children within the catchment area will be able to join a WSB within 1–2 min walk from their home to the nearest stop. Our multi‐objective WSB route planning model is highly transferable to any selected school in any WSB targeted area. Planners will be able to select a combination of WSB lines to offer, based on the requirement of coverage area and resource availability.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis
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03 Mar 2023 10:05
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03 Mar 2023 10:05