Use of Telematics in Improving Public Transport Efficiency
By Priyanka Vasudevan
Mysore | October 9, 2013
Over 60 representatives from various public and private operating agencies, private consulting firms, state transport undertakings, attended a two-day training workshop conducted by EMBARQ India with support from the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on 12th and 13th September 2013. This workshop, on the use of Telematics in Improving Public Transport Efficiency, was the fourth of EMBARQ India’s Talking Transit series, an initiative of the Bus Karo Plus programme.
Launched in 2009, EMBARQ’s Bus Karo + Program aims at promoting bus use and on a broader level public transport across Indian cities. The program entails three components: Learning (developing and disseminating training material), Talking (a workshop series) and Mentoring (assisting agencies in implementing pilot projects) Transit.
The sessions at the workshop were aimed at discussions on the demand and availability of ITS softwares and hardware in the Indian market and adopted a presentation-discussion approach where speakers were invited to share their work and experience in the ITS space.
Held in Bangalore, the day was divided into two sessions. The first panel presented the existing uses of ITS in city agency operations and the potential ways in which this can be taken forward. Presently, operators in Mysore and Bhubaneswar have illustrated the use of ITS in areas such as demand analytics, GPS and vehicle tracking and revenue monitoring. While these uses can be effective in scheduling improvements, system monitoring and traveller information provision, there are several other areas in operations that can be greatly benefitted. By manipulating the data, fuel consumption and driver monitoring can be further assessed and improvised for better service provision.
The purpose of the second panel was to highlight challenges faced in implementation of ITS in cities including Delhi, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. Some of the issues that were emphasized on during the presentations were the lack of employee support for system upgrade, integration challenges with the software, lack of personnel and knowledge for maintenance and administration tasks and complexity of the system. It was interesting to know that many of the agencies were facing similar issues in their experience with ITS, making a platform like the Talking Transit series a beneficial forum for transport practitioners. A question-answer session after each panel discussion allowed the audience to clarify doubts and provide their comments.
Following the first day’s sessions, the group travelled to Mysore where the sessions began with an early morning site visit to KSRTC’s (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) Control Centre and depot, where it’s ITS system Mitra is being handled and managed from.
MITRA (Mysore Intelligent Transport System) is Mysore’s ITS package that enables its users with a vehicle tracking system, real-time passenger information system and a central control station. The information is passed on to commuters via display boards located at bus stops, hotlines, SMS services and the internet that are all updated in real time. As part of the system, an on-board, two-way communication channel is also in use, allowing better management and communication between bus drivers and the Control Centre. Based on the issues being faced by the project team, Mitra is constantly being upgraded and updated to address these challenges and augment its scope in improving Mysore city bus system’s operational efficiency.
Following the site visit, the third panel discussion on cities’ initiatives with ITS was conducted. Mumbai’s BEST (Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport Undertaking) presented on their process with the adoption of a software to help with aspects related to resource management and the introduction of a RFID-based smart card. Indore discussed the strides they have taken in the BRTS space and the role played by ITS. The introduction of ITS has included Wi-Trac based Intelligent Traffic Signals, solar-powered signals, state-of-the-art camera detection based virtual looping, signal priority for BRTS, synchronized operations, etc.
The second panel of the day focused on the aspects related to procuring ITS components. It was noted that since ITS is a fairly recent path for public transit operators, there remains a significant lack of knowledge and information that needs to be bridged. The second half of the panel discussed Delhi and Ahmedabad’s experience and the challenges faced in PPP models in ITS and contracting lessons from Janmarg.
The fourth Talking Transit workshop was successful in enabling various players in the public transit and ITS to come together and share their experiences and ideas. As a way forward, EMBARQ hopes to continue working with these transport undertakings by learning best practices and bridging gaps and challenges that exist in the ITS space in public transit.