Integrating Travel

Trends in adoption of smart mobility solutions

With the increasing urban population, smart mobility has become a one-stop solution for the provisioning of efficient integrated public transportation systems in the country. The solutions being adopted by cities under the Smart Cities Mission have been pivotal in improving user experience while solving the issues of traffic congestion and reducing the burden on ageing physical infrastructure. These smart mobility solutions such as smart parking solutions, mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), smart ticketing and automatic fare collection (AFC) have witnessed greater penetration and advancements in the past few years.

Smart parking

Smart parking has been one of the most adopted smart city solutions. It uses artificial intelligence-based techniques such as vehicle counting equipment, cameras, and sensors installed in pavements to assess the occupancy/vacancy of parking lots on a real-time basis. During the ongoing pandemic, the solution has been crucial in restricting the number of vehicles that can be parked at a particular location, thereby maintaining physical distancing. In January 2020, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation inaugurated the city’s first fully automated car parking tower facility at Green Park, bringing down the vehicle retrieval time from 15 minutes in conventional parking systems to only about three minutes. In December 2019, smart parking was launched on Kasturba Road in Bengaluru with a command station and 50 parking slots for four-wheelers on either side of the road. Similarly, in the smart Bandra Kurla Complex project, a Wi-Fi sensor-based smart parking solution has been deployed to manage indoor, open and street parking. Meanwhile, around 3,000 smart parking slots have been created, significantly reducing parking time from 20 minutes to 5 minutes.

Smart ticketing

Smart transportation systems have increased the demand for smart ticketing technologies and systems. Over the years, the technology has evolved from paper-based tickets to closed-loop contactless smart cards. These smart cards are now being adopted across all modes of transport, from buses and metros to bicycle sharing systems. They offer the benefit of making the commute more convenient for passengers and at the same time, creating a data set on transport network use for service providers.

In November 2020, a first-of-its-kind authority to integrate different modes of public transport, the Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority, was formed. The authority will introduce the single-ticketing system through the Kochi1 smart card which will be used for various modes of travel. Once this system is implemented, Kochi will become the first city in the country to have a single-ticketing system.

AFC systems

Smart cities such as Ahmedabad, Indore, Surat and Bhopal have introduced AFC systems that offer seamless journey planning and payments on all urban transport modes including informal public transit such as shared cabs and autorickshaws. These systems use smart cards to gather user transit data which enables automated, cashless transactions and real-time monitoring of the public transport vehicle fleet. The AFC systems have been constantly evolving with third-party digital payment platforms such as Paytm, PhonePe and Google Pay collaborating with metro corporations to offer easier recharge facilities for smart cards.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has now decided to upgrade its AFC system to enable passengers to use their debit and credit cards to pay only for the distance they travel. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, this contactless fare collection system will prove to be a vital technology to curb the spread of the virus. Trials for the system are scheduled to start from December 2020 on DMRC’s Airport Express Line.

Mobility-as-a-service

MaaS is a digital platform that integrates trip planning, booking, e-ticketing and payment services through an application and provides a seamless, end-to-end multimodal travel experience for commuters. It is expected to become the future of city transport.

Morgan Stanley expects “shared miles” to reach 35 per cent of all the miles travelled in the country by 2030 and further to 50 per cent by 2040. The government has been extensively promoting the use of public and shared transportation services, shifting away from conventional personal modes of transport. In July 2020, NEC Technologies India and the Urban Mass Transit Company, a joint venture of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, entered into an agreement to jointly develop and deliver intelligent mobility solutions, including MaaS. With easy internet access available across the country, MaaS has gained traction as a sustainable mobility solution.

The Covid-19 pandemic has given a boost to the country’s digital revolution with the increased automation and technology adoption. The incorporation of smart mobility solutions will further the transformation of urban transportation systems by decreasing traffic congestion, lowering carbon emissions, reducing travel time, and thereby providing a better travel experience for commuters.

 

 

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