Discovering Trip Patterns from Incomplete Passenger Trajectories for Interzonal Bus Line Planning
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Abstract
Collecting the trajectories occurring in the city and mining the patterns implied in the trajectories can support the ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) applications and foster the development of smart cities. For improving the operations of interzonal buses in the cities, we define a new trip pattern, i.e., frequent bus passenger trip patterns for bus lines (FBPT4BL patterns in short). We utilize the passenger trajectories from bus smart card data and propose a twophase approach to mine FBPT4BL patterns and then recommend interzonal bus lines. We conduct extensive experiments on the real data from the Beijing Public Transport Group. By comparing the experimental results with the actual operation of interzonal buses at the Beijing Public Transport Group, we verify the validity of our proposed method.
Keywords
Smart Card Father Node DBSCAN Algorithm Frequent Trajectory Smart Card Data1 Introduction
With the popularity of smart devices and wireless networks, a large number of digital trajectories in everyday life from different objects (such as persons or vehicles) can be collected. Mining these trajectories gives us the opportunities to discover new knowledge or create new value.
Trip patterns are a kind of frequent sequence pattern. They can be loosely defined as a class of frequentlyoccurring trajectories that appear in the same spatial positions at the same periods. In real life, trip patterns can be found almost everywhere. For example, a student’s behaviors in a university often follow some pattern: he or she often moves in the morning from the dormitory to the classroom, and then gets to the canteen; in the afternoon departs for the playground from the library and then heads for the canteen. Similarly, tourists often follow one of several kinds of travelling routes. As we know, office workers often take the buses of the same line to go to their companies or go home during the weekdays. The vehicles in logistics companies often deliver the goods together. Their trajectories also contain the trip patterns. Further, discovering trip patterns is a constituent part of many applications, which include transportation planning, logistics optimization, friend recommendation, etc.
We note that while mining the trip patterns, the key step is to determine whether a trajectory contains a trip pattern. A variety of criteria can be made, depending on the definition of inclusion relation of the spatial and temporal attributes. However, the inclusion relation on these two dimensions will be completely different in various applications. It leads to the high diversity and complexity in mining trip patterns. Meanwhile, these trajectory data that have been obtained may suffer the problem of incomplete information. For example, the data from bus smart cards which are a specific kind of public transportation card, only recording the bus trajectories, belong to incomplete trajectories. Because we only know the boarding and disembarking times of these trajectories, and do not know the exact times that the passengers pass the intermediate bus stations along the trajectories.
At present, the data from bus smart cards are often used to analyze travel behaviors of individuals or crowds. As far as we know, they have not been used for interzonal bus planning and realtime bus scheduling. We think that the data from bus smart cards reflect the public`s travel needs and they are an important basis for bus scheduling. Because of this, this paper attempts to mine a specific trip pattern from the data of bus smart cards and then suggests some interzonal bus lines.
The main contribution of this paper is that we propose a solution which utilizes the data of public smart cards for planning interzonal buses. In the proposed solution, we first distinguish the commuters by clustering bus passengers. Then, we mine frequent bus passenger trip patterns for bus lines (FBPT4BL patterns in short) and determine some interzonal bus lines. We also conduct extensive experiments based on the public smart card data from the Beijing Public Transport Group. By comparing the experimental results with the actual operation of interzonal bus at the Beijing Public Transport Group, we verify the validity of our proposed method.
The rest of this paper is organized as follows. First, we review the related work in Sect. 2. Then, we define the problem formally in Sect. 3. Next, we describe the process of mining FBPT4BL patterns from the public smart card data in Sect. 4. In Sect. 5, we give the experimental evaluation with real data as input. Finally, we conclude our paper in Sect. 6.
2 Related Work
We first review the previous methods of mining trip patterns. Next, we investigate the existing work on public transportation card data. Finally, we discuss the ways of optimizing bus lines and public transport scheduling with different data sources.
Trip Pattern Mining.
A trip pattern denotes in essence a frequent path. The kernel issue in mining trip patterns is how to organize and search the trajectory information in an effective and efficient way [1, 2]. For example, [1] adopts a sequence instead of a single scalar to describe the frequency of a path so as to avoid the influences of infrequent edges and the number of constituent edges of a path, and construct the footmark graph and the corresponding footmark indexes. Next, [1] proposes a dynamic programming algorithm for path selection and applies an improved BellmanFord algorithm for mining frequent paths.
On the other hand, different application requirements derive new variants of trip patterns [3, 4, 5]. For example, the T pattern is proposed in [3] for obtaining the classification of persons. Moreover, [3] adopts a densitybased clustering method to mine ROIs (RegionsofInterest) from history trajectories, then mines T patterns in an incremental way from ROI sequences, and finally obtains the classification of persons on the basis of T patterns. For another example, the gathering pattern is proposed in [4] whose goal is to identify various group events, such as celebrations, parades, protests, traffic jams and so on. In [4], objects’ trajectories are clustered into several crowds. Next, the Hausdorff distance is used for measuring the distance between crowds, and neighboring crowds comprise the group. And then, the lower bounds for the number of crowds in one group and the number of moving objects appearing in a group are given for mining gathering patterns.
Smart Card Data Analysis.
The existing work on smart card data mainly includes the analyses of individual travel behaviors and collective behaviors.
As an example of mining individual behaviors, [6] adopts the bagofwords model to build a passenger profile by his or her trip information in the smart card data, and employs the hierarchical clustering to get groups of passengers. [6] uses the results of clustering as input of a threelayer backpropagation neural network to generate the predictions. The results show that passengers have their inner mobility patterns and usually hold the same patterns as the ones in the same group. However, for mining the patterns implied in the collective behaviors, the starting point is in general to classify the passengers according to the smart card data. [7] divides passengers into two groups: extreme travelers and nonextreme travelers, and then employs different methods to analyze the mobility and stability of two kinds of travelers. [7] concludes that the stability of extreme traveler’s travel pattern cannot last for a long time and the nonextreme shows high regularity. [8] classifies passengers into four types and then conducts the statistical analyses for each passenger type.
Bus Line Planning and Scheduling.
Planning bus lines and scheduling buses on the basis of big data is an emerging topic in intelligent transportation systems.
[9] utilizes smart card data and GPS data of buses to calculate the passenger density of a bus service, so as to verify the validity of time arrangements and assess the selections of bus scheduling schemes. [10] focuses on performing the bus scheduling of urban bus lines and proposes an improved multiobjective genetic algorithm and obtains multiple Pareto solutions. In order to meet individual travel needs, [11] proposes a flexible minishuttle like transportation system called flexi, to establish a flexible bus scheduling by exploring the taxi trajectories. The authors first adopt a hierarchical clustering algorithm to get the frequent taxi trajectory clustering, named hot line. Then, they construct a directed acyclic graph of hot lines, and mine bus lines and bus schedule strategies depending on the connectivity between hot lines.
Compared with the existing work, our work has a different goal, that is, interzonal bus line planning. For this goal, we propose a new variant of the trip pattern named the FBPT4BL pattern, and design a twophase appraoch to mining this pattern from the smart card data.
3 Problem Definition
Generally, a trajectory of an object refers to a sequence of timestamped locations, representing the traces collected by some mobile wireless devices. As far as a bus trip is concerned, the following information can be obtained from bus smart card data, i.e., the bus card ID, the bus ID, the bus line ID, the boarding time of a passenger, the disembarking time of a passenger, the GPS data of the boarding station, and the GPS data of the disembarking station. These data reflect the spatiotemporal characteristics of the boarding and disembarking behaviors. With the aid of bus line details, the station information which a bus passenger passes can be supplemented, but the times of reaching these passing stations are still unknown. So the trajectories from smart card data are incomplete ones.
For clearly defining the problem to be solved, the concepts below are given at first.
Definition 1 (Bus Trajectory): A bus trajectory is a pair (T, A) = < (b _{0}, t _{0}), b _{1}, …, (b _{ n }, t _{1}) > . Here, T denotes a sequential sequence of bus stations, that is, T = <b _{0}, b _{1}, …, b _{ n } >, where b _{0} stands for the boarding station, b _{ n } is the disembarking station, and the rest are the stations a passenger passes through. However, A = [t _{0}, t _{1}], where t _{0} and t _{1} stand for the boarding and disembarking times, respectively.
Definition 2 (Bus Passenger Trip pattern, BPT pattern): A trip pattern, called BPT pattern, is a pair \( (P,\tau ) \), where \( P = < b_{0}^{'} ,b_{1}^{'} , \cdots ,b_{n}^{'} > \) denotes a sequential sequence of bus stations which a bus trajectory, in whole or part, passes through, and \( \tau \) is the time interval that P goes through.
For deciding whether a trajectory is included in a BPT pattern, we have to define a binary relation between a trajectory and a BPT pattern.
 1.
\( m \le n \) and \( t_{0} \in \tau \);
 2.
if m = n, then T = P;
 3.
if m < n, then \( \exists x \ge 0 \), s.t. \( < b_{0} ,b_{1} , \ldots ,b_{m} > = < b_{x}^{\prime } ,b_{x + 1}^{\prime } , \ldots ,b_{x + m}^{\prime } > \), where \( 0 \le x, \, x + m \le n \).
Definition 4 (Frequent Bus Passenger Trip pattern, FBPT pattern): Given a bus trajectory set D, the minimum support threshold s _{ min }, and the time interval \( \tau_{\text{interval}} \), mining a FBPT pattern is to find a BPT pattern \( (P,\tau ) \) that includes at least s _{ min } trajectories and whose \( \tau \) is within \( \tau_{\text{interval}} \). That is, for any BPT pattern \( (P,\tau ) \), such that \( support_{D} \left( {\left( {P,\tau } \right)} \right) \ge s_{min} \), where support _{ D } (P,τ) stands for the number of trajectories \( (T_{k} ,A_{k} ) \in D \), \( k = 1,2,3 \cdots \), that satisfy \( (T_{k} ,A_{k} ) \subseteq ((P,\tau )) \) and \( \tau \) is within \( \tau_{\text{interval}} \).
Note that in Definition 4, different support _{ D } ((P,τ)) will lead to the different definitions of the frequent trip pattern.
In the paper, we explore bus smart card data to discover the commuters and mine one kind of specific frequent BPT pattern, named FBPT4BL patterns: i.e., frequent BPT patterns for bus lines. Now, we give the definition of mining FBPT4BL patterns.
4 Mining Frequent Trip Patterns for Interzonal Bus Lines
In this section, we propose an approach to mining commuterbased frequent trip pattern (the MCFTP approach in short) for recommending interzonal bus lines. The MCFTP approach consists of two phases: commuter recognition and interzonal bus mining. In the first phase, the DBSCAN algorithm is applied for passenger classification. In the second phase, with the support of a forest structure, an incremental data mining algorithm is designed for mining FBPT4BL patterns from the commuter trajectories. As a result, topk interzonal bus lines can be obtained.
4.1 Mining Commuters
For the perspective of bus line planning, interzonal bus lines should satisfy the travel needs from commuters. Thus, we employ the DBSCAN algorithm and identify commuters by clustering the trajectories on spatial and temporal features. In spatial aspect, we cluster on boarding and disembarking stations respectively to discover frequent OD (OriginDestination) pairs and then find frequent trajectories. In temporal aspect, we also use the density clustering algorithm DBSCAN to get the habitual time feature.
Mining Frequent OD Pairs.
For mining a passenger’s frequent boarding stations, we adopt the DBSCAN algorithm to cluster for each bus station in geographical position. Let \( Neib_{\varepsilon } (i) \) represent the collection of neighbor stations of station i, that is, \( Neib_{\varepsilon } (i) = \{ i'dis(i',i) \le \varepsilon \} \), where \( \varepsilon \) is the upper bound on distance and dis(∙) is the Euclidean distance. Let MinPts be the lower bound on the number of neighbors. The following four steps describe how to cluster.
Step 1: for a station i in the collection of boarding stations, if i has not been marked (which means that i is not marked as “processed” or “noise”), then check its neighborhood. If \( Neib_{\varepsilon } (i) \ge MinPts \), then create a new cluster h, add i into h, and add all its neighbors to the candidate set N.
Step 2: for the neighborhood of station i’ that has not been marked in N, if \( Neib_{\varepsilon } (i') \ge MinPts \), then add \( Neib_{\varepsilon } (i') \) into N, add i’ into h, and mark i’ as “processed”, else mark i’ as “noise”.
Step 3: repeat Step 2, until all stations in N have been processed.
Step 4: repeat Step 1 to Step 3, until each station has been marked.
Note that the clustering steps in this paper are a bit different from the ones in the original DBSCAN algorithm. Now, these isolated points in the result of clustering are not noise. Each isolated point indicates that only one bus station is found nearby. Thus, it should form a distinct cluster. We store the clustering attributes of each boarding station in H _{ boarding }.
For a passenger p, by matching all boarding stations of smart card records with H _{ boarding }, we can get arrival times for each cluster. Finally, the high frequency clustering is supposed to be frequent boarding stations, and the others are general boarding stations.
While mining frequent disembarking stations, we also employ the DBSCAN algorithm. The specific mining steps are the same as the ones in mining boarding stations. We store all clustering attributes of disembarking stations in H _{ disembarking }. Then, by matching all disembarking stations in smart card records with H _{ disembarking }, we can get frequent disembarking stations.
For a passenger p, if the boarding station (O) and the disembarking station (D) of a record belong to different high frequency clustering respectively, then this record is a frequent OD record. If the proportion of the frequent OD records in p’s records (denoted as \( \rho_{p,OD} \)) is greater than 50 % (which is \( \rho_{p,OD} \ge 50\% \)), then p is frequent in terms of OD.
Mining the Habit of Travel Time.
For a passenger p, if he or she takes buses within a certain time interval frequently, this time interval is referred to as the habit of travel time for p. Once again, we adopt the DBSCAN algorithm to cluster the boarding times of p in the bus smart card records for getting all the habits of travel time of p. In particular, the object i in the DBSCAN algorithm corresponds to the boarding time. The distance between objects corresponds to the time interval expressed in milliseconds. MinPts is the lower bound on i’s neighbors. The resultant clusters signify frequent times, and isolated points signify noise. If the proportion of p’s records with frequent times in all p’s records (denoted as \( \rho_{p,Habitual} \)) is greater than 50 %, then we say that p has habitual time.
Recognizing Commuters.

OD passengers: the passengers are frequent in terms of OD pairs, but have no habitual time.

Habitual time passengers: the passengers have habitual times, but are infrequent in terms of OD pairs.

Commuters: the passengers are both frequent in spatial and temporal aspects.

Casual passengers: they have none in spatiotemporal features.
Next, for each passenger p, the following rules are given to distinguish commuters:
Rule 1: if both \( \rho_{p,OD} \) and \( \rho_{p,Habitual} \) are small enough, p is a casual passenger.
Rule 2: if \( \rho_{p,Habitual} < 50\% \), \( \rho_{p,OD} > \rho_{p,Habitual} \), and \( \rho_{p,OD} \), \( \rho_{p,Habitual} \) are not too small, p is an OD passenger.
Rule 3: if \( \rho_{p,OD} < 50\% \), \( \rho_{p,Habitual} > \rho_{p,OD} \) and \( \rho_{p,OD} \), \( \rho_{p,Habitual} \) are not too small, p is a habitual time passenger.
Rule 4: if \( \rho_{p,OD} \ge 50\% \) and \( \rho_{p,Habitual} \ge 50\% \), p is a commuter.
4.2 Mining FBPT4BL Patterns
For reducing the overheads of trajectory retrieval, we design a forest structure which can organize trajectories with the same boarding station into a tree.
Establishing a Tree Structure.
Each tree in the forest is used to store the trajectories with the same boarding station. Specifically, the same boarding station is stored in the root node, the disembarking station and these stations which passengers pass through are stored in the children nodes. Each node stores a triple, i.e., (item, count, children), where item stores the name of current station; count is the number of commuters’ trips whose boarding station is the root node of this tree and the disembarking station is current node; and children contains the children of this node which are stored in a hash table.
Creating a Forest.
The forest is established by these trees above and stored in a hash table. For a trajectory that has not been visited, if the tree whose root node is the boarding station of the trajectory does not exist, then we create the tree, otherwise we search the tree for the branch that matches with the trajectory. If the matched branch exists, then we increment count, where the count belongs to the node that matches with the disembarking station. Otherwise, we create a new branch and set count of the leaf node to 1.
Executing FBPT4BL Patterns Mining.
Step 1: traverse the tree in a depthfirst order. Let c be the current visiting node. If c.count > 0, then mark the branch from root node to c as a BPT pattern tp _{ c }, and store tp _{ c } into a set of BPT pattern TP.
Step 2: let pc be the father node of c. If BPT pattern tp _{ pc } exists in TP, then set tp _{ c }.ITFQ to tp _{ pc }.ITFQ. Then, for each node o in tp _{ pc }, find the tree whose root node is o, search for the branch that matches with the subtrip in tp _{ c } from o to c, and add the count of end node in the matched branch to tp _{ c }.ITFQ, and then get to Step 5. If tp _{ pc } is not in TP, then continue Step 3.
Step 3: sum all count values in tp _{ c } to tp _{ c }.ITFQ.
Step 4: delete the first node of tp _{ c } to get the new pattern tp _{ c }’. If tp _{ c }’ is empty, then continue Step 5, else match tp _{ c }’ against the forest. If the matched branch is found, then turn to Step 3. If not, then turn to Step 4. Here, the meaning of match is to get a branch whose root node is the first node of tp _{ c }’, and each node of the branch is the same as the bus station in tp _{ c }’ in order.
Step 5: select BPT patterns in TP whose lengths are larger than r, and compute the commuters’ score values of these patterns by Eq. 1. Then, sort the selected patterns by score to get topk results which are the trips of BPT4BL patterns. By matching these trips to bus lines, the interzonal bus lines and bus intervals can be gotten.
4.3 Time Complexity Analysis
Let w be the number of bus stations, g be the number of commuters, and u be the trajectory number. The analysis of the MCFTP approach consists of three parts: commuter mining, forest creation, and FBPT4BL pattern mining.
In the commuter mining part, since the DBSCAN algorithm has the complexity of O(w∙logw), the complexity of mining frequent ODs is O(2 g∙u), and the complexity of mining habitual time is O(g∙ulogu), the total complexity is O(w∙logw + 2 g∙u + g∙ulogu).
In the second part, creating a forest needs to traverse all trajectories, which will make the complexity of this process O(u∙w).
In the third part, we use an incremental method to mine FBPT4BL patterns. A new BPT pattern’s ITFQ is calculated by the existing pattern’s IFTQ via a traverse from the root node to its father node. From Step 2, we see that the complexity is 1 + 2 + 3 + … + d = O(d ^{2}), where d is the station number in a branch. Let e be the number of leaf nodes in the forest. The complexity of mining process is O(d ^{2}∙e). Considering that each branch in a tree is a subtrajectory of passengers and the total station number of one bus line in Beijing is no more than 50, which means that the maximum length of branches cannot be larger than 50, the complexity of mining process is O(2500∙e).
5 Evaluation

How do we set the distance upper bound \( \varepsilon \) and the minimum number of neighbors MinPts in the commuter identification phase?

Does only commuter data result in better experimental results than all passengers or other types of passengers?

Does the MCFTP approach is appropriate to a realtime bus scheduling?
To answer the above questions, we first conduct experiments to analyze the sensitivities of \( \varepsilon \) and MinPts. Then we evaluate effectiveness and efficiency of the MCFTP approach. In experiments, we use the real data from Beijing Public Transport Group, including 6,507,837 passengers and 48,427,884 items of bus smart card data from Aug. 3, 2015 to Aug. 9, 2015, as well as 5,622 bus stations and 707 bus lines.
5.1 Sensitivity Analysis of MinPts and ɛ
The application of the DBSCAN algorithm requires two important parameters: the distance upper bound ɛ and the minimum number of neighbors MinPts.
While the DBSCAN algorithm is applied to clustering by the spatial information, ɛ denotes the upper bound of spatial distance. A small ɛ may result in a big error since some stations which belong to the same destination may be clustered into different classes, whereas a too large ɛ also performs poorly since the stations falling into different destinations may be clustered into one class.
In Beijing, the distance between neighbor bus stations ranges from 500 m to 1200 m. Considering that an acceptable walking distance is 1000 m or so, we increase ɛ from 500 m to 1000 m to evaluate clustering results. However, MinPts is used to set a regular cluster density. In the downtown, bus stations within ɛ should not be very congested. Thus, in experiments, we increase MinPts from 1 to 10.
While the DBSCAN algorithm is applied to temporal information, ɛ denotes the upper bound of the temporal distance. ɛ is set to 20 min, since in general commuters will arrive at stations at a relatively fixed time points, varying within a very narrow interval. MinPts is set to 3. That means a passenger is regarded as frequent in temporal aspect if the passenger takes a bus at same station at least three times one week.
5.2 Effective and Efficient Analysis of MCFTP Approach
We collect the real interzonal bus lines in Beijing as the ground truth. So far, about 3,851 interzonal bus lines have been operated, covering 282 bus lines.
From Fig. 4, we can see that the MCFTP approach performs better than other three methods. The highest matching ratio of our approach is 62 %, and the lowest matching ratio is 51 %. For the data on Aug. 7, our MCFTP approach is 28 % higher than the OD based method, 18 % higher than the HTP based method, and 18 % higher than the AP based method while γ is set to 1 %. On average, the HTP based method is mostly close to our method. The reason behind is that these habitual time passengers have regular boarding habits and interzonal bus lines in morning rush hours can greatly benefit these passengers.
We find that the OD based method performs worst in four methods. However, from the above experiments, we know that the sum of all passengers is 6,507,837. Among them, the number of OD passengers is 4,661,267, the number of habitual time passengers is 243,370, and the number of commuters is 1,536,927. OD passenger’s number is about 3 times of commuter’s number. That means that the interzonal bus lines planning should rely on the contributory passenger factor instead of passenger number.
As regard to the time complexity, for the data of one day, we need 65 s to build the forest and 5.852 s to mine interzonal bus lines. Our method has the low time complexity, and can be used for scheduling interzonal buses in realtime.
6 Conclusion
In the paper, we focus on mining patterns in the trajectories. We propose a twophase approach to mine FBPT4BL patterns from the bus smart card data and obtain interzonal bus lines. The resulting interzonal bus lines can be used for evaluating the rationality of existing interzonal bus lines or guiding the opening of interzonal bus lines.
Notes
Acknowledgments
This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 61472408.
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