Having worked in various parts of Berlin I would dare calling myself a seasoned insider on commuter optimization.
I used to work in the historic city centre, the West End, south-east at Schönefeld airport and nearby the same, as well as north-west near Tegel airport; I used the commuter train, the underground, the metro buses; of course most of the time I drove my own car, yes, even when working in the centre (dedicated business parking assumed), and I even cycled once or twice (I am older and wiser now, actually gave up the idea on a day the weather report was backfiring and I arrived in the office soaking wet).
There was one constant: the search for the minimum average journey time, in other words: the route with the least average journey time. Others may replace the factor time by journey cost – not me: living on the outskirts of town I usually owned a car “anyway”, restricting the cost comparisons to the fuel part vs. public transport tickets (as mentioned, cycling was only considered for a very short time).
Now that the Easter school breaks are over – which gave rise stress relief for those who stayed in the city – that quest (sometimes better described as fight) for the optimized journey is back in town, and my mind. Looking ahead to the next holidays, the summer school breaks, this time not focusing on the Berliners to stay, I was thinking about the following thesis: to compare the daily Berlin commuting problem with the problem of optimization of high season tourism, narrowed down to the archetypal family-with-kids-two-weeks-sun-and-beach vacation.
The idea is related to Wardrop’s principles of equilibrium as well as game theory, however, in leisure travel there are many players, thus the approach is becoming more complex than in games with only a few players.
The model shall be tested for the prediction of tourism patterns in peak periods which tend to have congestion in resorts. We postulate the alternative behavior aiming on the minimization of the total tourism cost. The principle of resort choice is a simple behavioral principle to describe the spreading of tourism over alternate resorts due to congested conditions (and ignoring all other factors, such as culture, preference, nostalgia, language etc): The average cost of tourism to all resorts actually used are equal and less than those which would be experienced by a single tourism to an unused resort. Although in an unconscious and non-cooperative way, each user will attempt to minimize his cost of tourism for a standard sun and beach vacation during the summer school breaks, which is commonplace.
Parallel to Wardrop, we may refer to this as the “user equilibrium” – each user chooses the package that is the next best available value for money. Because unilateral action would not achieve the same goal for the average tourism cost, it shall be called a user-optimized equilibrium.
Second principle to be tested: At equilibrium the average tourism cost is minimum. Although all users buy their vacation individually, they behave cooperatively to achieve the most efficient use of the whole system.
Tour operators, junior and senior wranglers, your turn!
„It was the early 1970s and I was recently divorced. I had three kids and was totally broke. I managed to find work back east on the straw-hat circuit – summer stock – but couldn’t afford hotels, so I lived out of the back of my truck, under a hard shell.“ (William Shatner)
(Illustration by Irina Mihul)