Monday, September 14, 2009

GPS to make bus travel easier

GPS to make bus travel easier

The state transport department has started trial runs of vehicles fitted with Global Positioning System which, if made mandatory in all buses, could make public transport reliable, comfortable and safe, Shwetha S reports

Shwetha S



THE tension, uncertainties and pain of bus travel could be reduced to a great extent once the government makes Global Positioning System (GPS) mandatory for all passenger buses.
The state transport department has sent a proposal to the government in this regard. If implemented, it will benefit passengers, transport companies and department officials. The road traffic control centre can track buses fitted with GPS devices 24 hours a day.
"We keep receiving complaints from bus passengers about delay in reaching their destinations. Some get panicky if the bus suffers a breakdown on the way or is stuck due to landslide or floods. To allay their fears, we want all passenger vehicles, including those of KSRTC, to be fitted with GPS. So if any untoward incident occurs, we will be able to track down the vehicles easily," D Vijay Vikram, joint commissioner of transport department, said.
To drive home the point, he quoted two incidents.
"Once, we were left clueless about the fate of a Shimoga bus bound for Bangalore. Due to this, passengers on board and those waiting for them had hell of a time for five hours. Later, we found out that a landslide had led to the delay. With GPS, such a situation could be avoided," Vikram said.
"On another occasion, a bus from Mangalore hired by a marriage party failed to reach Coorg on time. As time ticked away, calls started coming from the relatives of passengers. It took some time for us to realise that the bus had suffered a breakdown. And by the time we gave this news to the relatives, the bus had already reached Coorg," he said.
"The trial run for the project is under way. We've installed the GPS in seven department vehicles for drivers to get familiarised with the system. On the GPS map, we can know the speed, time and location of the vehicle," he said.
RTO commissioner Bhaskar Rao has installed the GPS system in his vehicle.
The department wants passengers to reduce dependence on private vehicles by opting for public transport. This will cut traffic congestion and air pollution. GPS can make bus travel comfortable for passengers by providing them next-stop information while travelling, and arrival time details while waiting at bus stops.
At the start of each trip, the bus driver can enter the route number and departure time into the on-bus ticketing machine. As the bus travels along its route, predicted arrival times could be communicated to the electronic display signs at bus stops. This information is relayed as the bus passes points along the route, using information from the GPS system.
The buses can also announce next-stop information through on-board speakers and signs. The driver can control the sound system, and the audio may give information to tourists on nearby places of interest.
The GPS initiative could improve the services provided by KSRTC and other transport companies by monitoring the location of the buses and the drivers' driving habits.
The equipment can map acceleration and braking patterns as well as cornering, lane and speed handling. A LED monitor on the dashboard can flash green if a bus is being driven correctly or amber and red for manoeuvres such as heavy braking or unnecessary acceleration. Drivers can make immediate changes to ensure the bus travels efficiently. Reckless driving and speeding, the cause of most bus accidents along the highways, can thus be reduced.

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