Can intelligent transportation systems solve India’s traffic congestion problems?

September 17, 2014

In 2012, an IIM-Transport Corporation of India study revealed that India loses Rs 60,000 crore a year due to congestion. For most citizens, traffic congestion and unpredictable travel-time delays are problems that is already factored in their daily lives.  Can technology help in clearing traffic congestion? In India, a first step for testing whether technology can help in clearing congestion is being tried out in the city of Ahmedabad by a company called Zero-Sum ITS.  Once implemented, this solution will be showcased as a mechanism of using technology to aid in decongesting traffic conditions in other cities. Understanding that the high cost of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) undermines its importance, the firm has customized the solution to best suit Indian conditions. The ITS solution uses a hybrid model of gathering vehicle information on the roads from camera based traffic sensors and GPS information from vehicles.  The collected traffic information is sent to a cloud based control center which then analyses the gathered traffic information to understand the traffic flow and congested areas in the target area. The ITS solution then displays the processed information onto huge electronic information boards that are placed approximately 200 meters before every traffic light. This information will aid motorists in making a decision on which roads to avoid and taking up alternate routes to reach their destination. A cloud-based control center negates the need for having to setup up a physical control center with manned personnel and manual intervention through a tablet computing device. This enables the police to control the solution in case of an emergency from any location within the city.   “The key goal of the ITS solution being implemented by Zero-Sum is to ensure better traffic management by providing more information to road users and enabling them to plan their trips optimally thereby reducing travel time, saving fuel and decongesting busy roads,” says Chikara Kikuji, Managing Director, Zero Sum ITS.  Key components of the traffic management solution Based on a traffic study undertaken by Zero-Sum in cooperation with the Ahmedabad Traffic Police and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Zero-Sum will install ten camera based traffic sensors across various locations on 132 Feet Ring Road of Ahmedabad. These sensors will gather information on the traffic flow including speed, density, vehicle classification and send the information to a cloud based traffic control center. This center will receive the information from the traffic sensors and the traffic police will process the information that needs to be shared with the public regarding the traffic jams in the city. This center will not require any physical space to be setup thereby eliminating the need of having to allocate space inside the Ahmedabad police station for the hosting of the ITS solution. The solution will be hosted through a cloud data center and therefore no physical set-up is required in Ahmedabad. The ITS setup will include setting up of four electronic information boards across key road junctions in Ahmedabad. These information boards will receive what information is to be displayed from the traffic control center and will display to the public which roads are congested and the de-tour route to take so as to avoid entering into the traffic jam or congested areas. For the dual purpose of providing real time traffic updates and gathering traffic information, mobile phone users in Ahmedabad city will be provided mobile applications that can be downloaded free of cost. This application will also have useful information such as city map, important POI (Point of Interest) locations such as gas stations, shopping malls and restaurants. As part of the ITS trial solution, five tablet computing devices will be made available to key personnel of Ahmedabad Traffic Police allowing them to control what information needs to be shown on each of the Electronic Information boards. Therefore, in an emergency, the traffic personnel can operate the solution from anywhere across the city. The entire cost of the ITS solution, its implementation, training and maintenance will be borne by Zero-Sum with no cost being charged to the local Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation or Traffic police. Zero-Sum will monetize the solution by using 50 percent screen space of the Electronic Information Board to display commercial advertisements. These advertisements will not be shown during any emergency and the advertisements shown will only be static advertisements without any video content so that motorists are not distracted. The system can easily expanded for implementation across an entire city and can integrate with other traffic management/ enforcement systems including parking systems, disaster management and weather systems. Beyond traffic management If used intelligently, the system can greatly help in detecting incidents – by pinpointing locations of accidents or vehicle breakdowns. This is extremely important in handling emergency situations.  The ITS solution can also help in classifying vehicles, which in turn helps in planning the road width and the space of the pavement.The same solution can be effectively used for monitoring pollution and road quality. Once the foundation for intelligent transportation systems is laid, the same can be extended for further benefits such as traveler information, road management, public transport management and incident and hazard response.

MVD radar surveillance system in 4 more districts

September 15, 2014

The Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) will soon introduce in four more districts radar surveillance system to detect speeding by motor vehicles and violation of road rules, as part of Automation of Enforcement.

Kollam, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Kannur will get radar surveillance system in a phased manner. The estimated cost of the project is Rs. 7.99 crore.

The government gave administrative sanction for the project after the proposal put up by the State Transport Commissioner was cleared by the Special Working Group, Official sources told The Hindu.

The MVD has been asked to implement the project within a year.

The decision to extend the system comes close on the heels of setting up an automated enforcement control room in the Ernakulam Collectorate to monitor violation of traffic rules between Cherthala and Manjeswaram.

Of the Rs. 7.99 crore sanctioned, Rs. 7.76 crore will go towards procuring camera surveillance system and Rs. 23.68 lakh for the control room equipment. The funds had been made available from the Rs. 25 crore set aside for Road Safety Measures in the 2014-15 budget.

Cameras installed in these four districts will capture the pictures and transfer them to the control rooms. The automated detection system, developed by Keltron, would automatically search and print addresses from the MVD database.

Reflective and non-reflective number plates can be detected by the system, that includes a video camera that can record and store visuals.

The registered owner of the vehicle will get a chalan bearing the picture of the violation committed along with the offence and the penalty to be paid by post.

Assistance of Keltron

The Transport Commissioner has been asked to utilise the service of Keltron personnel if additional manpower is required for effective implementation of the project.

For the MVD that does not have adequate enforcement officials compared to the mounting vehicle population, the enforcement system has come as a blessing to ensure road discipline and check road accidents.

Moreover, complaints of harassment and delays had been reduced.

A sum of Rs.17.49 crore was levied as fine for traffic offences by the Motor Vehicles Department in the first four months of the calendar year.

Source:The Hindu

Signals to sense traffic flow in Bangalore

September 12, 2014

To decongest the city, the Bangalore police are planning to set up traffic sensing mechanisms to monitor and better regulate movement of vehicles, police Commissioner M.N. Reddi said.

On Thursday, he told reporters that Bangalore has over 300 junctions. Setting up traffic sensing units at key junctions would help the traffic police to better manage vehicular movement. “We have a first class traffic management centre. However, we are still unable to assess the traffic flow. With signal optimisation, we can have green corridors or green waves to ease congestions.”

The traffic police would also ensure that lane discipline is adhered to by earmarking sections for slow and fast moving vehicles. He said that with paid parking systems, haphazard parking, especially in densely populated business centres, could be eliminated.


Source:The Hindu

Traffic awareness campaign held

September 11, 2014

About 25 employees of Ford India participated in an awareness campaign on Wednesday, educating the public and students on the need to wear helmets and seat belts.

The awareness campaign, which went on for more than a couple of hours, was part of the Global Week of Caring programmes of the company.

The employees take up programmes related to health and safety, digital literacy, etc, ever year as part of the awarenss campaign.



Source:The Hindu

To unclog Delhi, hop into a streetcar named strategy

September 10, 2014

Fighting congestion by widening a road is like loosening your belt to fight obesity’ – US-based traffic engineer Walter Kulash’s observation about Orlando couldn’t have been more appropriate for Delhi.

To unclog the streets of Delhi, what we first need is an exhaustive and specific study to understand what clogs our roads. The city’s top experts believe that instead of incremental and reactive measures such as building one flyover after another, what Delhi needs is a comprehensive transport policy.

Hindustan Times has been running a month-long series ‘Unclog Delhi’ and as part of the campaign, we invited the top transport and planning experts of Delhi for a brainstorming session. One issue on which all experts agreed was the immediate need for a vision document for Delhi’s transport planning and an umbrella body that could coordinate with the multitude of authorities to come up with an integrated transport plan.

 ”Delhi doesn’t have a stated, comprehensive transport policy. It only has an operational plan prepared in 2003,” said Nalin Sinha, Director, Initiative for Transportation and Development Programmes. Sinha said all transport-related initiatives in the city are taken in an ad hoc manner in the absence of a stated policy.

AK Jain, former commissioner (planning), Delhi Development Authority, said that instead of a study of Delhi’s traffic demand management, short-term measures such as creating more flyovers and roundabouts are taken to deal with immediate problems.

Sinha emphasised on the need for an umbrella body for transport planning. “In most cities with successful transport and traffic scenario such as New York and London, it is the municipality’s responsibility,” he said. “In Delhi, the transport department reports to the government and is responsible for giving licenses, municipalities do not have time to handle anything beyond water and sewage, the DTC is autonomous, DDA does only land planning and PWD only builds roads and flyovers. Everyone passes the buck,” he said.

The experts also believe that instead of planning just the smooth movement of cars, transport planning should focus on the mobility of more people in a faster way. “There is no road designing in Delhi. Most roads have been designed just for motor vehicles,” said AK Bhattacharjee, former director, Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC).

He said that Delhi’s streets have been designed as highways, which lack all components to ensure equitable distribution of road space for all, including pedestrians and cyclists. “Of the Rs. 3,500 crore budget for transport in Delhi, Rs. 2000 crore goes into building flyovers. What about other transport and road infrastructure?” he said.

Strengthening Delhi’s public transport system and making it more seamless could help wean away people from private transport but what is required is proper last-mile connectivity, something the Delhi Metro sorely needs in spite of emerging as Delhi’s lifeline.

“When you have a world-class Metro in Delhi, why can’t you invest in last-mile connectivity?” said Professor PK Sarkar, head of transport planning department, School of Planning and Architecture. “Is flyover an essential requirement or do you have to see greater mobility?” he said.

Dr Sewa Ram, Associate Professor, School of Planning and Architecture, said that the issue of feeder services for Metro has been completely neglected when that and auto rickshaws should be a part of a lay-out plan. “There should be operational integration between different modes of public transport and fare integration on the principle of defined time, defined value. There is a need for a common mobility card,” he said.

“Ideally, one should spend two-third of the funds on the main route and one-third on the feeder service. What is happening is the opposite. People end up paying more on feeder services and less in Metro,” he said.

“Along Metro lines, traffic has gone up by 2-3% but away from Metro lines, traffic has seen a 9% growth rate. Mass transport has reduced traffic growth rate,” said Dr K Ravinder, senior scientist, Central Road Research Institute.

Jain said that alternative modes of transport can be used to lessen the pressure on Delhi’s roads. One such way is energising the existing Ring Railway of the city. He also said that radical innovations, such as using Delhi’s canals, which measure about 350 km, as waterways can also be looked into.

Source:Hindustan Times

An open invitation to chaos

August 5, 2014

Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

HT Correspondent  

CUT THE PRACTICE OUT  Gaps in road dividers are a blessing in disguise for motorists looking for a cut-short distance ride. But this practice leads to major traffic jams for most part of the day

LUCKNOW: Ineffective traffic management, poor road sense among people and unnecessary cuts in dividers together make a perfect recipe for chaos on city roads.



The authorities had constructed a permanent divider at this crossing to ease out traffic. But, last month, the divider was removed to facilitate a VIP. Now the crossing is again witnessing traffic snarls, as people coming from Sikander Bagh try to enter through the cut.

While these ‘openings’ are a blessing in disguise for motorists seeking to cut short their travel distance, the practice is proving to be a hindrance to the free movement of other commuters.

HT takes a look at some crossings in the state capital that suffer from daily chaos.


The authorities had constructed a permanent divider at this crossing to ease out traffic. As a result there was no chaos here for some time. Even locals welcomed the move despite having to travel the extra distance (driving up to Sikander Bagh crossing) to reach Nishatganj.

However last month, the divider was removed to facilitate some VIP who resides in Gokhale Marg. And now the crossing is again witnessing traffic snarls, as people coming from Sikander Bagh try to enter Gokhale Marg through the cut, which remained blocked for a year or so.


Those commuting on this stretch going towards the Mithaiwala crossing have developed a habit of taking a short cut through the one-way lane on the wrong side. This opening is meant only for the traffic headed towards Lohia Park.

“People are not ready to go a little distance to reach their destination and as a result there is traffic problem. Rows of vehicles can be seen stranded on the flyover because of this. The authorities have also failed to act strictly against the defaulters. The problem gets worse during office hours,” says Sneha Singh, a daily commuter on the road.


Initially, there was no opening in the divider here and traffic flow remained streamlined. But now the barricades have been removed, which has led to problems for commuters.


The local administration had in the past introduced one-way traffic system on this stretch. But due to poor implementation, the system died soon after it was introduced. The lenient attitude of the civic body towards shopkeepers also took a toll on the system.

The one-way traffic system was introduced to prevent traffic jams in the vicinity. Though authorities claimed to devise strategic plans to overcome the problem, no action has been taken till date. Due to increasing vehicular population and mushrooming shopping complexes, the parking problem worsens during school hours and in the evening.

The only proper parking facility available in the area is the underground lot at Jhandewala Park. “Only those driving fourwheelers use it. Two-wheelers are often parked along the roadside, which creates problems,” said Sunil, shopkeeper in Aminabad market.


“The civic body kept on passing maps of multi-storey commercial units without taking note of parking space. As per the rules, it is mandatory to leave adequate space for parking in commercial complexes,” he rued.



Traffic snarls at toll plaza on airport road

August 5, 2014

After protests against the nearly four-fold hike in toll rates at Sadahalli gate on National Highway 7 that leads to the international airport, commuters are now complaining of traffic snarls at the toll plaza during peak hours.

The Kempegowda International Airport records maximum traffic between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Adding to traffic chaos, the toll operators collect the fee at only 10 of the 14 gates at the plaza. The remaining lanes are being used by people living in the surrounding areas.

“It usually takes at least 15 minutes to pass the toll gate during the peak hour,” said Papanna, president of Bangalore International Airport Taxi Owners and Drivers Association. A senior Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation official said that buses were stuck at the toll plaza for nearly 20 minutes during peak hour.The BMTC tried but failed to get a separate lane for public, the official said.

Traffic expert M.N. Srihari said that an estimated 30,000 vehicles ply on the road during rush hour. The toll plaza was not equipped to handle the traffic, he said.

Surendra Kumar, project director, NHAI, Bangalore, told The Hindu that there were only two automated toll-collection lanes whose capacity is 1,200 vehicles per hour. However, the rest of the lanes are manual with a capacity to handle only 240 vehicles per hour.


Source:The Hindu

HALF FLYOVER SAVITRI – Nightmare on Outer Ring Rd

July 31, 2014


Neha Lalchandani & Somreet Bhattacharya

Delhi has seven half flyovers while another will come up at Dhaula Kuan. PWD is reviewing them because of worsening jams. A TOI campaign led to a solution for RTR. In a series, we take a look at other troublespots


The half flyover at Savitri Cinema on Outer Ring Road came up around 1999. It was part of a larger project to make Outer Ring Road signal-free. That is yet to be achieved, but the spot has become a nightmare, especially during peak traffic hours.Over the years, traffic has grown. Traffic Police officials say that more than 10 lakh vehicles pass through this stretch daily. As this huge stream from the four-lane Chirag Dilli flyover gushes towards this half flyover, the width of the road gets reduced to virtually three lanes because of a gas cylinder depot jutting out into the road. That creates a knot which takes time to unravel and knocks out traffic over a long distance.As the vehicles slowly emerge from this bottleneck, there are barely two lanes each available for the straight moving (headed for Nehru Place) and right-turning (going towards GK-II) traffic. Since the volume of vehicles going towards Nehru Place is quite huge, it effectively means four lanes of vehicles being squeezed into two lanes.Public Works Department has never tired of saying that a half flyover is a technically sound idea for T-points, which is what the Savitri crossing was. However, to implement such a project, a realistic estimate of traffic flows and sufficient road width are needed.


“We feel it has worked well and the problems are a result of traffic mismanagement,“ said a senior PWD official.Traffic Police and road users don’t agree at all. When the traffic going towards Nehru Place piles up, it often blocks the way for the right turning traffic, creating a cascading effect. Adding to the chaos now is the work being carried out by Delhi Metro right next to the flyover.On the other carriageway which gives access to the half flyover to traffic going towards Chirag Dilli, the road next to the flyover ends in a compulsory left turn towards GK-II. “ At the start of the flyover near Chittaranjan Park, there is very little convergence space for vehicles. As traffic descends, the road curves sharply towards the Chirag Delhi flyover which results in slowing down of traffic,“ said a traffic official. A divider constructed on the last lane of the carriageway for buses also forces vehicles to drift towards the right, leading to a bottleneck.“It take me more than 15 minutes to cross the 500-metre stretch between C R Park and Chirag Dill daily and it’s worse if a vehicle breaks down on the flyover,“ said Amrita Roy , who works in Gurgaon.The bad news is that there is little relief t in sight. “With a Metro station coming up in the area, additional road space will be . required to accommodate feeders like autos and e-rickshaws. Either the road will have to be widened or a parallel flyover construct ed,“ said a PWD official. “With land acquisition rates having gone up, it has now become cheaper constructing a flyover rather than acquiring land which will anyway be difficult. On the other side of the road, towards GK-II, there is not land available.“


Smart traffic signals coming

July 23, 2014

Somreet Bhattacharya, TNN |

NEW DELHI: The capital’s roads are all set to have a ’smart’ signalling system that will measure traffic pressure on a stretch and change signals on it accordingly. One of these is being installed at Dwarka Mor crossing. Traffic police will study its effectiveness during peak hours.

Police will soon issue tenders for installing the system at Aurobindo Marg, India Gate, Nelson Mandela Marg and Connaught Place. “Earlier, we had technical difficulties and little expertise. If this project is successful, we will install it in other areas,” joint commissioner of police, traffic, Anil Shukla, said.

Under this new system, the smart signals will have remote sensors which will communicate with nearby signals to control the traffic flow at a particular intersection. At present, signals are controlled through a preset timing system which at times result in pileups during peak hours or induce drivers to skip signals during lean hours.

Every time there is a jam at a particular crossing, someone goes and analyzes the pressure of vehicles and adjusts the signals’ times manually. The problem arises when one of them breaks down. The entire system then must be shut down until the signal is repaired.
However, under the smart signalling system, if one signal breaks down, the others will keep functioning because each works independently. What’s more, police at control rooms can identify a faulty signal instantly if one of them breaks down. The smart signals with independent power systems have inbuilt antennas and sensors that relay a change of traffic light to the next post which, in turn, responds automatically.
In case of a road like Aurobindo Marg, which has signals arranged in close succession, a driver must stop at every crossing as timings of all signals cannot be synchronized due to heavy traffic pressure on connecting roads, a traffic official said. “But, under the new system, if there is one car waiting at the signal when connecting roads are empty, it will turn green,” he said.


Banglore Police gearing up to go Hi-Tech

July 15, 2014

A state-of-the-art system, similar to the Traffic Management Centre, is to be set up at the Police Commissioner’s office

After helping the traffic police keep an eye on violators, technology is again to be put to good use in maintaining law and order.

A ‘state-of-the-art’ system, similar to the Traffic Management Centre, is expected to be set up at the Police Commissioner’s office in Banglore.

Speaking at a press conference  on Monday, Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar said that 18 police stations in the central business district are to be covered in the first phase under the system. A budget of Rs. 8.5 crore is allotted for this phase. Funds from the Mega City Policing Plan (MCPP) would be utilised for this purpose, he said. Mr. Auradkar was responding to Biocon CMD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw’s suggestion of extending CCTV cameras installed at traffic junctions to keep track of crimes in addition to traffic violations.

Mr. Auradkar said the State government, at the behest of the city police, had sought an increase in the penalty for traffic violations. “The fine for parking violation is only Rs.100. Many people prefer paying this instead of paying the parking fee of Rs. 150 an hour at a mall,” he said.

A decision on this will have to come from the Centre by amending the Motor Vehicles Act, he said.

source:The Hindu

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