Thursday , 2 July 2020

Surat: Smart City in the making

Smart Mobility Solutions

As a Smart City initiative, Surat is implementing ITMS features like AVLS, AFCS, ATCS, EIMS, BDC for ensuring service levels as well as proving end user a convenient way to commute and increase efficiency of pubic transport operations.

AVLS: The system shall be able to track all the public transit vehicles and government vehicles such as solid waste collection vehicles, firefighting vehicles, ambulances, etc. through an AVL system. AVLS in public transit vehicles will help in providing real time information to users through audio-visual facility in vehicles as well as at stations. SMC is also developing a website and mobile based application to provide real time information so that people can plan their journey in advance and reduce their waiting time at stations. Emergency Incident Management System (EIMS) is also developed as an integral part of AVLS for resolution of critical emergencies such as fire and medical.

Control Centre: The information is significantly required at various levels like passenger information, operation management and revenue management. To integrate information for a robust data base, the proposal includes development of a City Mobility Centre that shall act as a control center for real time tracking, monitoring of schedules and report generations. The control centre at present monitors public transit, vehicle and crew rostering, inventory management and maintenance log through Depot Management Software. Control Centre also communicates to vehicles using a two way communication system of Bus Driver Console.

Adaptive Traffic Control System: An efficient management of traffic enhances mobility. To improve traffic behavior enforcement of traffic regulation is mandatory. Surat proposes to implement an Area Traffic Control System to manage city traffic. The system shall incorporate dynamic signaling and camera based monitoring of traffic regulation. More than traffic management, the system through better enforcement shall improve road safety on urban roads.

Making Public Transport the preferred choice to commute

Interview with M Thennarasan, IAS, Municipal Commissioner, Surat

What is Surat City’s Mobility vision?

Vision for Sitilink is to deliver a reliable, comfortable, safe, secure, efficient and affordable public transport services which would be commuter’s preferred choice of commute. This strategy of providing quality services through integration of City Bus System, BRTS, High Mobility Corridor and Metro Rail is aimed at making Surat sustainable. Sitilink has been created as a Company to manage all bus systems.

Surat city is known for its extensive coverage with basic services such as water supply, drainage, sewerage etc., However the city has not focused on the public transport in the past resulting in major deficiencies. Will the integrated plan help bridge the existing gap in urban mobility?

Historically Public Transport has not been obligatory function of the city government. Earlier services were provided by GSRTC. Lack of transit opportunities have given rise to auto-rickshaw and private vehicle dependency leading to traffic chaos and pollution. SMC started focusing at Urban Transport in 2008 when it initiated the process of developing BRTS. However, the 102km network planned for BRTS, still offered limited coverage.

Generally experts advocate incremental approach in which public transport is developed over a long period of time as it is understood that people take time to change their travel habits. The city of Surat did not have the luxury of time to adopt this incremental approach. We needed to do something big and quickly. Hence we have adopted a big push approach wherein four sub-systems; BRTS, City Bus, HMC and the Metro Rail are being developed simultaneously.

This strategy, it seems, is already paying dividends in a big way. In a short period of three months with the introduction of 250 buses, we have started attracting over a lakh passengers on a normal day. We hope and believe that this will only swell with expansion of network and deployment of buses. By June 2017, we will have about 800 buses on road; catering approximately 3-4 lakh passengers per day. Hence forth it is expected to double in a year’s time.

Mobility in Surat is dependent on auto-rickshaws and private vehicles. Will the citizens prefer to shift to public transit modes?

People prefer accessible, reliable, comfortable, safe and affordable services. SMC has aimed to provide services with end-user’s perspective. Sitilink competes with shared auto and hence ensuring reliability and affordability are key challenges. Sitilink strives to provide regular services within eight-ten minutes along defined bus routes thus aspiring to build trust and reliability amongst users. Developing this reliability shall take time, and we are prepared for it. Our focus will be on providing and maintaining service reliability, thus making public transit a preferred choice to commute. Adding to these efforts, we also plan to integrate the three-wheeler services with the public transport systems.

How is this initiative contributing to Surat’s Smart City Mission?

Providing reliable public transit is itself a smart initiative, as it reduces traffic congestion, fuel consumption and traffic pollution. Additionally, initiatives like Smart card for Single Ticket journey in the integrated system, Automatic Fare Collection, Tracking performance of transit services through Automatic Vehicle Location System, Passenger Information System, Depot Management System and Automatic Traffic management System have been undertaken for efficient management of services. In my view ‘seamless mobility is smart mobility’.

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