, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 269–285 | Cite as

A Schedule-based Pathfinding Algorithm for Transit Networks Using Pattern First Search

  • Ruihong HuangEmail author


The lack of effective and efficient schedule-based pathfinding algorithms for transit networks has limited the application of GIS in transit trip planning services. This paper introduces a schedule-based path finding algorithm for transit networks. Based on a pattern-centered spatiotemporal transit network model, the algorithm searches the network by following route patterns. A pattern is a spatial layout of a route in transit terminology. A route usually has many patterns to serve various locations at different times. This path search algorithm is significantly different from traditional shortest path algorithms that are based on adjacent node search. By establishing a set of lemmas and theorems the paper proves that paths generated by the PFS algorithm are schedule-coordinated fastest paths for trips with given constraints. After analyzing computation and database query complexities of the algorithm the paper indicates that the PFS is efficient in computation and database query. Finally, effectiveness and efficiency of the algorithm are demonstrated by implementations in GIS-based online transit trip planners in Wisconsin, US.


GIS transportation transit network pathfinding algorithm trip planning complexity 



The author gratefully acknowledges the insightful comments and suggestions made by the anonymous referees as well as the editing contributions by Chris Donnermeyer.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Planning and RecreationNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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