Intelligent Transport Systems

Both describe the use of applied computerized communication technology to improve conditions on our roads. A system is programmed to achieve a particular set of objectives, according to brief, further objectives may be added in the future, but they must be programmed into the system.

Any difference, therefore, lies in the details of the software programming and its application. Where traffic-related ITS are primarily concerned with traffic enforcement and toll collection, transportation-related ITS aim to provide more enjoyable and effective journeys for those using public transport and to help traffic flow more smoothly. The eThekwini Transport Authority has incorporated ITS into its plans for the future.

The eThekwini Transport Authority

In January 2004, the eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA) was established to take responsibility for all transport-related matters within the municipality. Its particular mandates are public transport and the reduction of traffic congestion. It is therefore hoped to encourage people who currently indulge in using private transport to see the benefits of switching to public transport.

In the Durban area, this includes buses, mini-bus taxis and trains, none of which currently operate very efficiently. Some services are duplicated, underutilized and subsidized, while others, which by virtue of their popularity should receive subsidies, are not.

Buses and trains are subsidized in the amount of 400 million rupees per year, but taxi commuters, historically the poorest people in our society, must cover the full cost of the service.
13% of Durban residents (approximately 400,000 people) do not have access or cannot afford to access public transport, in any form. The current initiatives of the eThekwini Transport Authority aim to apply technical intelligence to change and improve the status quo.

The “summary” and the EMS

The average distance of a journey by public transport is 20 km and takes about 48 minutes from start to finish. Taxis are often (at best) uncomfortably crowded and (at worst) in appalling conditions, putting the lives of commuters at risk.

The “recapitalization” of taxis goes far beyond the exchange of cash with battered vehicles and the monitoring of the dedicated and regulated route. An electronic management system (EMS), which operates far beyond the issues of paying fares, is an important feature of the R7.7 billion x 7 year program.

This “total operational solution” will monitor aspects such as vehicle speed, where and when stops are made, vehicle maintenance management and automatic provision of medical and funeral insurance coverage for passengers (in the event of injury or death). In fact, it will totally control and revolutionize an industry that caters to 68% of the country’s daily commuters.

Incentives for change

The “positive discrimination” incentives that hopefully induce motorists to switch willingly to public transport include preferential bus lanes with right of way (dedicated) Description applied (to keep other vehicles out) with the help of the CCTV license plate and facial recognition systems, which will allow the automatic prosecution of offenders.

Bus lanes increase the speed of buses by decreasing the speed of all other vehicles. Electronic transponders, mounted on buses, can also ensure that buses encounter green signals in robots.

All good and good; but the Durban municipality may need to double the staff in the traffic cameras office. As a nation, we are known for our illegality on the streets; citizens regularly ignore regulations. As for taxis: is there one that can withstand an empty lane? As a result of this initiative one can expect a huge increase in license plate violation and the jumping of red robots.

More importantly, you can’t take a bus that doesn’t work in your area. Perhaps preventative lanes, reserved for buses and taxis, would leave motorists to travel in relative safety, albeit more slowly!

A fair fare system

Due to the low value, but high volume of public transport fares, ticketing systems have traditionally been considered the most acceptable proof of payment. Cash presentation wastes time for the driver, who must provide the correct change, or incurs the need for an extra person, a conductor / ticket seller, inside the vehicle or at an alternative office.

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