Sunday , 9 August 2020

Simplifying Transportation in India

Challenges in ITS Implementation

Several public transport agencies have implemented ITS technology at different scales with varying degrees of success. These systems focused on isolated deployments of several ITS components, thus not giving the complete benefit of the technology. Some of the challenges of ITS implementation include:

• lack of resources for operation and maintenance of ITS technology
• lack of in-house technical capacity to process, understand and analyse the data
• lack of advanced analytic solutions in the public transport industry
• lack of knowledge on ITS systems and capabilities to specify suitable terms when contracting ITS services to vendors
• lack of knowledge among vendors on the specific needs of public transport operations, which significantly affects the utility of the product
• lack of understanding about the implications of procuring a certain technology in a fastchanging ecosystem
• awarding of ITS contracts purely based on the lowest costing proposals rather through a quality and cost-based criteria

The Jaipur City Transport Services Limited (JCTSL) had signed an agreement with UTI Infrastructure and Technology Services Limited (UTIITSL) to provide Intelligent Transport Management Systems for common mobility cards in Jaipur. Initially, the project was to introduce an entire system including AFC, a vehicle tracking system, management information systems reports, a central financial settlement, a settlement house, etc. UTIITSL’s role was to design, procure, develop, install, operate and maintain the project.

Serious issues started emerging early after ETMs were put into operation, some of which are listed below:

• Poor battery life: The battery of the ETM did not last for more than 4-5 hours. To rectify the issue, UTIITSL provided battery back-up, which needed to be connected and attached to the ETM, adding considerable weight to the machine (>800 gms). This made it cumbersome to handle and operate by the conductor.
• Additional workload: This led to 80,000-90,000 paper tickets being issued daily, which was nearly 70-75% of the total ridership. This created extra work for the agency, to manage two systems – paper tickets and the ETM-issued tickets.
• Non-Functional ETMs: 150 out of the 221 machines were non-functional and could not be used, requiring additional paper tickets to be issued.
• Revenue Leakage: The use of paper ticket posed a problem of potential revenue leakage.

These issues led to a complete failure of ITS technology. Finally, JCTSL withdrew ETMs from 17 of a totals of 18 routes. Today, the system has been reworked and a Comprehensive Traffic and Transport Study (CTT) was carried out by the Jaipur Development Authority to formulate a long-term transport strategy for Jaipur region and identify a practical and effective investment plan for 20 years. The study addresses immediate and future transportation problems of the city by formulation of short term, medium term and long-term transport strategies.

Going forward

Pan-city initiatives should explore the potential of leveraging existing ITS applications and integration of the same on a common platform. The focus should also be on the creation of a consistent database at the city level that can serve as a basis for decision making in urban transport infrastructure planning (mobility planning for goods and passenger, public transport planning, capturing socio-economic parameters, understanding the activities of the people, aid in revenue generation, reduce congestion, reduce travel uncertainty, reduce energy consumption and emissions, ensure safety etc.).The data feeds from different applications will aid in understanding travel patterns, and determining the effectiveness of different initiatives like traffic demand management, infrastructure performance and foreseeing complex urban challenges.

Implementation of an integrated ITS system in India has many challenges but it nevertheless has the potential of not only being a data repository for the city, but also acting as a platform where analysis and computation can take place to identify solutions for complex urban transport systems.

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