Route Optimization for Energy Efficient Airport Shuttle Operations - A Case Study from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

Research output: NRELPoster


Air travel and requisite surface traffic supporting passenger arrival/departure constitutes a significant portion of travel and emissions in cities with large airports. An airport trip can segment into three parts namely: i) travel from a location in the city to the airport; ii) travel from a parking lot or rental car center to the terminal (i.e., within the airport premises), and iii) travel inside the terminal. Depending on the airport access mode all or a part of these legs comprise a traveler's journey to the airport. The priority of airport ground transport management teams is to provide passengers with a seamless travel experience within the airport, so it is understandable that within airport shuttle routes might not be optimized for minimizing energy consumption. Solutions that meet the dual objective of reducing energy consumption from airport shuttle operations without compromising on passenger travel experience are key to improving system efficiency. There is currently a dearth of research and tools that can inform airports in making such decisions. Addressing this need, this research effort puts forth an optimization model that generates optimal shuttle routes for a given set of constraints, and a discrete-event simulator that evaluates the optimal solutions in a stochastic environment to understand the tradeoffs between passenger wait times, and within airport shuttle energy consumption. The proposed set of tools are tested in the context of optimizing airport shuttles routes within the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). In addition to shuttle spatial positioning, and passenger demand information, high-fidelity vehicle data was collected using data loggers installed on DFW shuttles. Results show that 20% energy reduction in shuttle operations is possible with a modest two-minute increase in average passenger wait times. The tools developed in this research effort are designed to be generalizable and can help optimize shuttle operations planning at any major airport.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2021 TRB Annual Meeting, 21-29 January 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-2C00-78893


  • air travel
  • airport shuttles
  • bus schedule optimization
  • discrete event simulation
  • energy efficiency


Dive into the research topics of 'Route Optimization for Energy Efficient Airport Shuttle Operations - A Case Study from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this