IT solutions are important for public transportation systems and information is becoming critical for any service planning. The key factors such as passenger demand; journey demand; service hour; and service frequency have great impact on the expenditure and revenue of any authority or operator. IT tools can also help to refine processes and improve efficiency. Smart transportation systems should have fleet management, ticketing, security surveillance, traffic management and real-time passenger information.
The recent ‘Policy Road Map for City Bus Systems in India’ study identified that most of the city’s bus operators are still lagging behind in the implementation of an IT system. The survey revealed that nine out of 12 cities have implemented a vehicle tracking system and 11 out of 12 have implemented electronic ticketing machines (ETMs). However, no cities have yet implemented ‘planning and scheduling’ or ‘depot management’ systems; with the majority using manual systems for such operations. The availability of real-time information is equally important for commuters to plan their journey. In the absence of good quality data, commuters aren’t able to obtain accurate service information. However, there are some third party mobile app providers that provide offline information to users.
Smart ticketing has been slow to gain popularity in India. All metro systems have implemented smart ticketing solutions for its ‘closed’ environment; Delhi Metro sells approximately 16,000 smartcards a day and 1.8 million commuters use the card daily. However, the smart ticketing systems are not yet integrated with the bus system. The federal government did make plans to introduce a Smart National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) to enable seamless travel using different modes of transport across the country as well as having retail purchasing benefits. However, the initiative did not take off. In July 2015 the government established a committee to recommend an inter-operable smartcard.
In June 2016 Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) became the first city in India to launch the Axis Bank BMTC Smart Card – an open loop EMV contactless smartcard. However, the system is not integrated with other modes such as metro. Mumbai is another example that has various modes of public transport including suburban railway lines, metro, buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has appointed London’s Transport for London (TfL) to prepare a detailed plan for an integrated ticketing system in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. An integrated system is planned to be rolled-out by 2018.