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Wednesday , 17 August 2022

Optimizing Travel Efficiency with Technology

Traveller’s perspective

Travellers have quite different concerns than operators. One point of interest is convenience. Can they use the different modes of transport like bus transport, metro rail and a ferry seamlessly using a single smart card? The media used for the smart cards could be even phone based like NFC or a simple phone using Q R codes. The traveller’s concern is, can the media be used as a mobile purse or e-purse where I can just buy tickets and use the public transportation without having to wait in long queues? Another aspect of convenience is whether the mobile purse can be used at places such as multi-modal transfer stations to do make retail purchases such as a magazine to read on the journey etc? If the country is to increase the proportion of public transport we need to think of the technologies can bring ease and convenience of travel.

Integrated Fare Management System, Multiple Operator Settlement System (Central Clearing House) and the required ground level instrumentation have to be in place for the system to work.

The second concern of the traveller is if the journey can be planned. Will the travellers be made aware of the incidents on the road, traffic jams due to some accident or some unexpected event etc. He can then take a decision based on this information whether he should use his personal vehicle, or use public transport or use a different mode to reach the destination of if the trip should be cancelled.

Another aspect for planning the travel is whether the traveller has a smart mobility platform for planning the journey.

IBM has implemented a public transport project in city of France using the above mentioned principles. The project shows in detail how the planning of the journey is done, how the traveller is informed of the journey plan,and at the same time, if an accident or other incident occurs, the travellers are informed and they are able to change their mode of transport to reach their destination or implement some other course of action.

In-flight entertainment is a convenience, which used to be provided earlier for only air travel, is now being implemented on some trains like the Shatabdi Express. The traveller carries his own device such as a smartphone or tablet and the carrier just provides the interface and entertainment material. The traveller accesses the system using his mobile wallet and the system gives access after deducting the pre-set entertainment fee from the wallet.

Navigation has been made easier by Google Maps which shows the paths used by vehicles, congestion levels on the paths etc.


This deals with questions such as what kind of policies have to be brought in to ensure good enforcement  of the relevant laws, standards that need to be adapted for design of roads and other infrastructure facilities to ensure optimum safety. Technology will help the government better manage the entire traffic and transportation framework and ease travel.

From the governance point of view, can we really manage the infringement? Today, a lot of traffic problems arise due to incorrect parking. People park their vehicle at their will, half of the roads are blocked, and signal jumping is quite common. From the governance perspective we are yet to come up with a policy which says that an incident captured by an instrument is an adequate evidence to penalize a person for an infringement. So, there are policies in Intelligent Transportation Systems about which the government has understood the importance, and is moving to freeze these policies. Rules and regulations for ITS, compliances for tracking & penalization, safety compliances and information security are some of the aspects that an adequate governance policy has to address. Governance also plays a major role in enabling and helping the operators, ensuring better and timely service for traveler and also keep a vigil on the different modes of transport that are being run and whether they are safe enough for public to use.

E-Freight corridors: Both people and goods have to travel if the economy has to grow. When logistic companies have to cover a certain segment, they see how many warehouses are there in the segment and if they can really see it over the internet? An important consideration is if they could use warehouses that do not belong to them, maybe rent them out and optimize the movement of the goods. That is the kind of technology in e-freight corridors which will be available in the near future.

Highway traffic management system: HTMS is already in place but they have to come a long way. Lot of safety issues are yet to be addressed and have to be looked at in a holistic way.

Public Safety/Security: The government is giving top importance to safety and security in transportation, particularly after incidents such as the Nirbhaya case. The operator has to go beyond just vehicle tracking systems. Are adequate visual effects being captured? The operators have to ensure that there is no infringement or tampering of the instruments. This is where sensors installed in buses and other public transport can help and which will also ensure safety for women and children.

Today, technology has to be looked into from traveller’s perspective – keeping in mind their convenience, helping them in planning their journey and providing information at the right point of time. From the operator’s standpoint, there is a need to provide a collaborative platform where they can work and address the issues together with other stakeholders. Thirdly, there has to be a well-informed decision support system which is able to analyse the current data, analyse predictive data and create a dashboard with all the relevant information, so that one can take decision with pre-defined standard operations.


Debasish Debsikdar
General Manager
Smarter Transportation Leader
India & South Asia, IBM

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