Smarter transport systems are encouraging cities to enhance mobility, reduce emissions and personalise the user experience, says Brijgopal Ladda, Director, Urban Practice, CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory.
What are the key initiatives taken by Indian cities to develop smart transportation systems?
The Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) programme in India is aimed at ensuring safe, affordable, quick, comfortable, reliable and sustainable access for the growing population. ITS is essentially the application of computer and communication technologies coming in aid of transportation related issues. ITS technologies enable gathering of data or intelligence and thereafter providing timely feedback to traffic managers and road-users.
ITS results in improved safety, traffic efficiency, reduced traffic congestion, improved energy efficiency and environmental quality and enhanced economic productivity. Some examples of ITS include Advanced Traffic Management Systems, Advanced Traveler Information Systems, Advanced Vehicle Control Systems, Electronic Toll Collection Systems, Advanced Public Transportation Systems, etc.
A few ITS applications have been introduced in India in metropolitan cities like New Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, etc., which focus on standalone deployments of area-wide signal control, parking information, toll collection, etc. Indian cities have taken various smart initiatives in transportation activities such as, Area Traffic Control Project (Mumbai), Automatic Traffic Control System (Chennai), Traffic Integrated Management System (Hyderabad), Metro rail (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore), BRT systems (Delhi, Ahmedabad, Indore) and traffic management systems (Bangalore, Pune).
Real Time Traffic Situation: In Hyderabad, the real time traffic situation at junctions (40 junctions) and arterial roads is available through the Hyderabad traffic police website. The real time images of traffic at busy junctions are also available. Traf?c light control is a vital necessity for both these type of intersections that will govern the traf?c ?ow pattern over the entire city. Currently, in absence of automated signal control techniques, the traf?c lights are either controlled by on-road policemen or remotely controlled by manually seeing video feeds at the traf?c control room. Public Transport System: Global Positioning System (GPS) is being used in public transport buses (Bangalore, Chennai, Indore) to monitor vehicle routing and frequency so that passengers do not have to wait long hours for a bus. Display boards with high quality light emitting diode in wide-view angle are provided at bus stops to display the route number and destination of the approaching bus, expected time of arrival, including messages of public interest.
Parking Management: State-of-the-art parking management system has been set up by the New Delhi Municipal Council at Palika Parking in Connaught Place. This system allows vehicle users to be guided by a wide range of sensors, lights, signboards and directional displays to the closest vacant car space existing in the parking lot and similarly for identifying their car location at the time of exit.
Smart Cards: National Common Mobility Card (More Card/Smart Card) was launched in 2011, with the mandate to allow the usage of multiple modes of transportation via a single card. This card can link multiple modes of public transport, making it convenient for both users and transport personnel, who can understand mobility patterns. Real-time transport displays can provide visibility and information on availability of public transports to users, thus encouraging uptake of mass transportation, and also provides information on condition of traffic on various routes accurately.
Indian cities are moving to smart transport concepts but most of these smart tools are being implemented on an ad hoc basis and are city specific initiatives. What are the available technology solutions for intelligent mobility?
Smarter transport systems are encouraging cities to enhance mobility, reduce emissions and personalise the user experience. Smart transport systems overlay existing IT and communication infrastructure and support in increasing interconnectedness and openness. It covers a diverse range of applications from smart electric vehicle charging, city traffic monitoring and real-time traveler information to the installation of highway intelligence via sensors.
What are the key issues and challenges in deployment of intelligent transport solutions?
Some of the key challenges in implementation of ITS in India are underdeveloped road network, lack of resources for operations & maintenance and lack of user awareness. Others include lack of definite guidelines and regulations and absence of national ITS standards for different ITS applications. India´s ITS can´t be entirely modelled on the existing successful ITS of other nations due to basic cultural, geographic & practical differences between countries. Many transport companies in India have GPS installed in their vehicles for real time tracking, but it has at times localisation errors thereby providing wrong information. Lack of funds for ITS implementation, which is mainly due to the cost and difficulty factor, solutions to traffic problems are commonly assigned low priority. Also lack of information is certainly impeding the deployment and spread of ITS.
With a number of new road networks planned, the use of Cement Vs Bitumen has again been doing the rounds. What would be a better suited building material keeping the Indian conditions in mind?
Bitumen has been widely used in the construction of flexible pavements as this is the most convenient and simple type of construction. The cost of construction of single lane bituminous pavement varies from Rs 45 to 60 lakh per lane km in plain areas. Rigid pavements (concrete pavements), though costly in initial investment, are cheaper in the long run because of low maintenance costs.
With the cost of bitumen going beyond $100 per barrel, the cost of construction between concrete roads and bituminous roads for heavy vehicular loading has narrowed down and are almost at par. However, for urban roads where the predominant traffic is passenger vehicles, the initial cost of concrete roads is about 30 per cent higher. However, given they have a longer life of more than 30 years, and maintenance cost is less, the life cycle costs need to be looked into, to compare costs of cement vs bitumen based roads.
Further there is an issue with respect to concrete pavements when it comes to utility and pipeline laying and therefore these are being avoided. For any city, it could be ideal to have at least 50 per cent of the roads as concrete pavements so that maintenance cost can be saved. The rest of the roads can be bituminous. Existing bituminous roads can also be provided with concrete overlays which are called ´white toppings´ which also saves frequent resurfacing costs.
Intelligent Transport Systems
1. Vehicle Tracking System (VTS)
2. Variable Messaging System (VMS)
3. Station Name Display System (SMDS)
4. Distress Call Response Management System (DCRMS)
5. Vehicle Actuated Traffic Signal Controllers (UTCS)
6. Area Traffic Control System (ATCS)
7. Wireless Traffic Control System (WTCS)
8. Intelligent Parking Lot Management System (IPLMS)
9. Red Light Violation Detection System (RLVDS)
10. Traveler Information System
11. Integrated fare management
12. Enhanced transit/customer relationship management
13. Traffic prediction
14. Improved transport and traffic management
15. Traveler information and advisory services
16. Road user charging
17. Variable parking pricing