A novel method to address the ferry network design problem (FNDP) is presented. Ferry transport is an increasingly important component of public transport, providing mobility for people in large cities with harbours or rivers. It is therefore important that ferry networks are designed to meet the needs of ferry users. The connections between ferry stations and the locations of hubs that are optimal for passengers are revealed by the maximum passenger utility spanning tree connecting all ferry stations. This paper harnesses the equivalence between entropy maximisation and utility maximisation to find the maximum passenger utility spanning tree which connects all ferry stations. A small example with five ferry stations illustrates how the spanning tree topology responds to the pattern of passenger demand. Two heuristics for solving the problem are compared for the Sydney Harbour ferry network with 36 ferry stations. One heuristic reveals the most important connections between ferry stations from a passenger perspective. The use of maximum passenger utility spanning trees for ferry network design in practice is discussed.
Michael Bell is the Professor of Ports and Maritime Logistics in the Institute of Transport and Logistics, at the University of Sydney Business School. Prior to this, he was for 10 years the Professor of Transport Operations at Imperial College London and for the final 5 years at Imperial the Founding Director of the Port Operations Research and Technology Centre (PORTeC). He graduated from Cambridge University with a BA in Economics and obtained an MSc in Transportation and a PhD on Freight Distribution from Leeds University. His research and teaching interests span ports and maritime logistics, city logistics, transport network modelling, traffic engineering, and intelligent transport systems. He is the author of many papers, a number of books (including Transportation Network Analysis, published in 1997), was for 17 years an Associate Editor of Transportation Research B, the leading transport theory journal, and is currently an Associate Editor of Transportmetrica A.