Long-term vehicle reservations in one-way free-floating carsharing systems: A variable quality of service model

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Reservations in daily services can improve user satisfaction, and give additional information about the demand patterns to the operators. However, providing reservations to carsharing clients is difficult. While carsharing is especially convenient if it is allowing one-way trips and vehicle drop-off anywhere in the service area (called free-floating), this flexibility increases management complexity because of vehicle stock imbalance. Most of the commercial providers of free-floating carsharing offer reservations under highly restrictive terms, for example only up to 30 min in advance. In this paper, we propose an innovative reservation enforcement technique that allows substantially longer reservation times while keeping the system profitable and achieving high service quality. A simple way to enforce reservations is locking vehicles until the departure time of a client. However, it comes at the cost of idling vehicles that could be used by other users and decreasing the revenue. Our approach, called relocations-based reservation enforcement method (R-BR) combines vehicle locking and relocation movements. It locks vehicles only a short time before the trip departure if a suitable vehicle is close enough due to the natural trip patterns. If no such vehicle is available, a car is relocated from another place. Further, we propose a variable quality of service (QoS) model in which the guaranteed radius around the user within which the reserved vehicle will be placed, and the maximum allowed reservation time before the departure depends on the zone of trip departure. A simulation-based optimization is used whereby the carsharing operation is simulated and optimized using an iterated local search (ILS) metaheuristic for adjustment of service level parameters. The proposed technique is tested on a set of artificial problem examples and a case study of a simulated working day in the Lisbon Municipality, Portugal. Results show that the proposed R-BR method is substantially better than the simple vehicle locking when the constant QoS approach is used and that the devised ILS metaheuristic can further increase the system performance, especially with high trip volumes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-322
Number of pages25
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Free-floating carsharing
  • Iterated local search
  • Quality of service
  • Relocations
  • Reservations
  • Sustainable transport

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