Exploring agent-based modelling for car-based volunteer driver program planning

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University of New Brunswick


Volunteer Driver Programs (VDPs) utilize the service of volunteers to replicate car-based on-demand door-to-door services in rural areas, but little is understood about how external factors (e.g., changes in demand) impact VDP sustainability. Agent-Based Modelling (ABM) simulates operational behaviour of individual agents (e.g., drivers, users) to evaluate their interaction under specified scenarios, and while it has been used in transportation research, has never been applied to VDP analysis. Netlogo was used to develop a simplified VDP ABM, calibrated and validated with one year of program data from the New Brunswick Volunteer Driving Database. Two model scenarios were tested: increased health trip distance and increased service area. Doubling health trip distance resulted in 46% fewer drives, 20% mileage reduction and 30% less driver utilization. Doubling of service area resulted in 47% fewer drives while keeping mileage and driver utilization virtually the same. ABM demonstrated intuitive results and established connection among changing operational scenarios.