Automatic Generation of School Bus Routes in Los Angeles

Research Team: Mason Porter (lead), David J. Spencer, and Cu Hauw Hung

UC Campus(es): UCLA

Problem Statement: Every regular school day, LAUSD operates over 14,000 hours of service using 1,307 school buses to serve over 38,000 students, who attend more than 300 schools in more than 30 subdistricts, on 1,669 routes over a service area of about 750 square miles. Bus contractors own and operate another 700 school buses to provide service for LAUSD. LAUSD also provides service for midday, athletic events, after-school programs, and on weekends. The buses are subject to traffic conditions — operating both during peak traffic times and during non-peak traffic times — and to changing enrollment patterns. LA’s very large geographic area, as compared to other US cities, makes the problem particularly acute (and also scientifically interesting).

Project Description: The goal of this project was to automatically generate school bus routes for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The research team examined four algorithms, including two from the existing literature and two new ones that the researchers developed. A major focus of this work was the construction of “mixed-load routes,” which transport students from multiple schools. Based on the research team's measurements, three of the four algorithms perform at least as well as the existing route plan, and one of those three performs better than the existing route plan. The researchers also delivered a user-friendly routing program to LAUSD that uses one of these algorithms, and the researchers have made their software publicly available.

Status: Completed

Budget: $101,447

Policy Brief(s):