Skip to main content

Serving Rides of Equal Importance for Time-Limited Dial-a-Ride

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNTCS,volume 12755)


We consider a variant of the offline Dial-a-Ride problem with a single server where each request has a source, destination, and a prize earned for serving it. The goal for the server is to serve requests within a given time limit so as to maximize the total prize money. We consider the variant where prize amounts are uniform which is equivalent to maximizing the number of requests served. This setting is applicable when all rides may have equal importance such as paratransit services. We first prove that no polynomial-time algorithm can be guaranteed to serve the optimal number of requests, even when the time limit for the algorithm is augmented by any constant factor \(c \ge 1\). We also show that if \(\lambda = t_{max}/t_{min}\), where \(t_{max}\) and \(t_{min}\) denote the largest and smallest edge weights in the graph, the approximation ratio for a reasonable class of algorithms for this problem is unbounded, unless \(\lambda \) is bounded. We then show that the segmented best path (\(\textsc {sbp}\)) algorithm from [8] is a 4-approximation. We then present our main result, an algorithm, k-Sequence, that repeatedly serves the fastest set of k remaining requests, and provide upper and lower bounds on its performance. We show k-Sequence has approximation ratio at most \(2+\lceil \lambda \rceil /k\) and at least \(1 + \lambda /k\) and that \(1 + \lambda /k\) is tight when \(1 + \lambda /k \ge k\). Thus, for the case of \(k=1\), i.e., when the algorithm repeatedly serves the quickest request, it has approximation ratio \(1+\lambda \), which is tight for all \(\lambda \). We also show that even as k grows beyond the size of \(\lambda \), the ratio never improves below 9/7.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-77876-7_3
  • Chapter length: 16 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-77876-7
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 3.


  1. 1.

    We note that any simple, undirected, connected, weighted graph is allowed as input, with the simple pre-processing step of adding an edge wherever one is not present whose distance is the length of the shortest path between its two endpoints.

  2. 2.

    Note that the algorithm need not take a full time segment to move from one set of requests to another, but it is specified this way for convenience of analysis. Excluding this buffer time in the algorithm specification does not improve its approximation ratio since one can construct an instance where each move requires the full time segment.

  3. 3.

    Note that when the graph is complete, \(t_{max}\) (\(t_{min}\)) is the maximum (minimum) distance over all pairs of nodes. Otherwise, using the pre-processing described in the footnote 1 in Sect. 2, we have that the distance between any two non-adjacent nodes is the shortest distance between those nodes, and \(t_{max}\) (\(t_{min}\)) is the maximum (minimum) distance over all of these distances.

  4. 4.

    Note that if \(1+\lambda /k \ge k\), then \(\lambda (k-1)/k + 1 \ge k\).


  1. Anthony, B.M., et al.: Maximizing the number of rides served for dial-a-ride. In: Cacchiani, V., Marchetti-Spaccamela, A. (eds.) 19th Symposium on Algorithmic Approaches for Transportation Modelling, Optimization, and Systems, (ATMOS 2019), vol. 75, pp. 11:1–11:15 (2019)

    Google Scholar 

  2. Anthony, B.M., Christman, A.D., Chung, C., Yuen, D.: Serving rides of equal importance for time-limited Dial-a-Ride (2021). (Online preprint)

  3. Archer, A., Bateni, M., Hajiaghayi, M., Karloff, H.: Improved approximation algorithms for prize-collecting Steiner tree and TSP. SIAM J. Comput. 40(2), 309–332 (2011)

    MathSciNet  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  4. Balas, E.: The prize collecting traveling salesman problem. Networks 19(6), 621–636 (1989)

    MathSciNet  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  5. Bienstock, D., Goemans, M.X., Simchi-Levi, D., Williamson, D.: A note on the prize collecting traveling salesman problem. Math. Program. 59(1–3), 413–420 (1993)

    MathSciNet  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  6. Blum, A., Chawla, S., Karger, D.R., Lane, T., Meyerson, A., Minkoff, M.: Approximation algorithms for orienteering and discounted-reward TSP. SIAM J. Comput. 37(2), 653–670 (2007)

    MathSciNet  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  7. Charikar, M., Motwani, R., Raghavan, P., Silverstein, C.: Constrained TSP and low-power computing. In: Dehne, F., Rau-Chaplin, A., Sack, J.-R., Tamassia, R. (eds.) WADS 1997. LNCS, vol. 1272, pp. 104–115. Springer, Heidelberg (1997).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  8. Christman, A., Chung, C., Jaczko, N., Milan, M., Vasilchenko, A., Westvold, S.: Revenue maximization in online dial-a-ride. In: 17th Workshop on Algorithmic Approaches for Transportation Modelling, Optimization, and Systems (ATMOS 2017), Dagstuhl, Germany, vol. 59, pp. 1:1–1:15 (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  9. City of Plymouth, Minnesota: Plymouth metrolink dial-a-ride. Personal communication.

  10. Cordeau, J.F., Laporte, G.: The dial-a-ride problem: models and algorithms. Ann. Oper. Res. 153(1), 29–46 (2007)

    MathSciNet  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  11. Elbassioni, K., Fishkin, A.V., Mustafa, N.H., Sitters, R.: Approximation algorithms for Euclidean group TSP. In: Caires, L., Italiano, G.F., Monteiro, L., Palamidessi, C., Yung, M. (eds.) ICALP 2005. LNCS, vol. 3580, pp. 1115–1126. Springer, Heidelberg (2005).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  12. Goemans, M.X., Williamson, D.P.: A general approximation technique for constrained forest problems. SIAM J. Comput. 24(2), 296–317 (1995)

    MathSciNet  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  13. Metropolitan Council: Transit link: Dial-a-ride small bus service. Personal communication.

  14. Molenbruch, Y., Braekers, K., Caris, A.: Typology and literature review for dial-a-ride problems. Ann. Oper. Res. 295–325 (2017).

  15. Paul, A., Freund, D., Ferber, A., Shmoys, D.B., Williamson, D.P.: Prize-collecting TSP with a budget constraint. In: 25th Annual European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA 2017). Schloss Dagstuhl-Leibniz-Zentrum fuer Informatik (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  16. Paul, A., Freund, D., Ferber, A., Shmoys, D.B., Williamson, D.P.: Budgeted prize-collecting traveling salesman and minimum spanning tree problems. Math. Oper. Res. 45(2), 576–590 (2020)

    MathSciNet  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  17. Stagecoach Corporation: Dial-a-ride. Personal Communication.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ananya D. Christman .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this paper

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Anthony, B.M., Christman, A.D., Chung, C., Yuen, D. (2021). Serving Rides of Equal Importance for Time-Limited Dial-a-Ride. In: Pardalos, P., Khachay, M., Kazakov, A. (eds) Mathematical Optimization Theory and Operations Research. MOTOR 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 12755. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-77875-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-77876-7

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)