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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Civil Engineering

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Eric Gonzales

Second Advisor

Song Goa

Third Advisor

Anna Nagurney

Subject Categories

Behavioral Economics | Finance | Transportation Engineering


Users of transportation systems need to make a variety of different decisions for their trips in the network, while their objective is to keep the generalized costs of their own trips minimized. In the transportation network, there is a diversity of different factors that can influence the decisions of the users, while the relative importance of these factors varies among the heterogeneous users with different trip purposes. Nonetheless, the cumulative result of the individual decisions of the users seeking to minimize their costs according to their own preferences leads to the user equilibrium condition in which no one can reduce his/her cost by changing his/her decision. In this research, we adapt the concept of the efficient frontier from portfolio theory (Markowitz, 1952) in finance in order to model the bicriterion choice behavior of users with heterogeneous preferences in transportation networks. We show that the efficient frontier has a set of primary properties that remains general in different problems. Thus, the primary properties of the efficient frontier can be employed to analytically model and solve different bicriterion choice problems in transportation.

For the first application, we use these properties to propose an analytical model for the morning commute problem when there is a heterogeneity associated with preferences of the users (Vickrey, 1969; Daganzo, 1985). A dynamic pricing strategy is also proposed to optimize the bottleneck by minimizing the total cost for users. In addition to the morning commute problem, Vickrey’s congestion theory is also shown to have applications in modeling and optimizing the operation of the demand responsive transit (DRT) system with time-dependent demand and state-dependent capacity as queueing systems. The efficiency of the DRT system can be improved by implementing a dynamic pricing strategy. The analytical solution of the morning commute problem can be also extended for modeling and pricing the DRT system when there is a heterogeneity associated with the preferences of the DRT service users.

For another application of the efficient frontier in modeling choice problems in transportation, we propose a traffic assignment model to account for the heterogeneity in sensitivity of the users to travel time reliability in a network under travel time variability. However, the proposed model can have wide applications in modeling the equilibrium condition of different multicriterion choice problems in transportation.