Annex 3 Application of ITS to HCBRT Systems

Travel Management – Pre-Trip Travel Information

Pre-trip travel information allows travellers to access a complete range of intermodal transportation information at home, work and other major sites where trips originate. For example, information on transit routes, schedules, transfers and fares. Real-time or up-dated information on accidents, road construction, alternate routes and traffic speeds along given routes, complete the service. Based on this information – on a website, and at hard-copy versions at major stations or interchanges, the traveller can select the route and determine the cost and how long the trip will take.

Travel Management – Trip Travel Information

As part of overall public transport management, users will be informed of the status of the upstream vehicles, the estimated time of arrival, route, platform (if any) and loading. This should also inform the users of any problems, major delays etc.

On-vehicle systems will be a strip route map—similar to that used on rail and light rail lines, showing stations served and interchange modes possible.

Stop announcements can be made automatically when combined with an AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) system, though this has been found to irritate drivers after a short period, a factor to be balanced against the needs of customers with visual impairment.

Traffic Control – Traffic Management on BRT Routes

This service will provide for the integration and adaptive control of the BRT route in relation to the flow of traffic, give preference to transit and minimizing congestion along the route.

Through appropriate traffic control, the service will also promote the safety of non-vehicular modes: passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. This service requires advanced surveillance of traffic flow, analysis techniques to determine appropriate traffic signal control and communication to the roadside infrastructure.

Public Transportation Management

This service provides computer analysis of real-time vehicle and facility status to improve transit operations and maintenance. The analysis identifies deviations from schedule and provides potential solutions to dispatchers and drivers. Integrating this capability with traffic control services can help maintain schedules and assure transfer connections between modes. Information regarding passenger loading, bus running times and mileage accumulated will help improve service and facilitate administrative reporting to the revenue and payment authority.

Information Management – Archived Data Function

This service will provide an ITS historical data archive of all relevant data and offer a tool for the planning, operations and research communities. This is essential for ex-post analysis and comprises the interventions made in each system: any automatic signal priority events, manual interventions and automatic controls made with AVL technology.

Control Centre

This is the work area where decisions on day-to-day operations are made in order to optimize the operation of each BRT corridor and where information is received, processed and stored.

Ticketing Systems

There is a worldwide consensus that, after decades of small-scale experiences with State-owned companies and exotic free-market ideas, urban transport works best when operated by the private sector under a regulated concession. Municipal agencies collect passenger data, plan the system, build new infrastructure and regulate the concession and fares policy. Bus operators operate the buses.

Smartcard technology has revolutionized the control of fares by speeding up operations, controlling discounts and minimizing fraud and theft.

Another major objective of automatic fare collection is staff safety: once cash payments are removed from the system, there is far less risk of robbery – this also benefits passengers, with less risk of getting caught-up in crimes.

There is a marked preference for contactless smartcards due to the lack of problems with card readers, forgery and theft.

Both city administrators and the public often confuse passenger boarding times (i.e. the time taken to get on the unit from the sidewalk) with passenger loading times (i.e. the time needed to get on the bus and pass the turnstile). If the unit has a conductor to take fares next to the turnstile and there is a large accumulation area, then stopped boarding and loading times are equal to the time taken to step on the bus. During the peak hours at, say a school, when the number of passengers exceeds the waiting area, the stopped time is more a function of the loading time taken to pass through the turnstile.

Tests were carried out in Latin America to measure the average turnstile-times for boarding an 18m articulated bus for:

  • Cash paying passengers.
  • Single trip (magnetic strip) tickets. and
  • Contact-less smartcards.

To complete this overview as shown in Table 1, measurements are given from the Curitiba and TransMilenio mass transit systems, which use at-floor boarding and for pre-paid low-floor units, as operated in HCBRT systems in China.

In peak hours, the stopped time of units is more a function of loading times than boarding times. Hence it is clear that, in peak periods, the major operational gain is going from a cash payment to pre-paid smartcards.

Table 1 Average Passenger Loading Times for Different Ticketing Systems

System Average Loading time/pax (s)
Cash payment to the driver
Single Ticket Magnetic at one door
Contactless Smartcard, one-door, on-board card reader
Integrated Terminal (3 door articulated) no card readers
Tube Station Curitiba (2 doors)
Terminal Curitiba (5 doors bi-articulated)
TransMilenio Articulated Unit (4 doors)
Low-floor China
Approx. 8 (*)
4 (#)

It is also clear that low-floor units have longer boarding times than high-floor systems (i.e. the same level boarding) – as to be expected. It is also obvious that to load an articulated bus with pre-paid access is very different from having the smartcard reader on the bus (0.1s compared to 2.5s). For 100 passengers this is equivalent to stopped times of 10s and 4 minutes 10 seconds.

Travel Information at Stations

Trip travel information is essentially the same as for any mass transit system:

  • Each bus unit is identified by code on its onboard computer
  • The operational plan allocates this unit to a specific route (normally according to a time-based grid)
  • Each unit is equipped with a transponder and GPS.
  • At control points (which could be traffic signals of separate stations), the units inform their position to the control centre.
  • This allows the control software to calculate any delays and supply the time of arrival of each unit (route) at downstream stations to passengers.

It is also possible to improve on metro systems and include weigh-in-motion (WIM) Piezoelectric systems at or near selected transmission stations. These consist of sensors which are placed across the bus lane, normally encapsulated in an epoxy-filled metal channel, usually aluminium.

The typical system consists of at least one sensor and one inductive loop. The sensor(s) is placed in the travel lane perpendicular to the direction of travel. The inductive loops are placed upstream and downstream from the sensor. The upstream loop is used to detect vehicles and alert the system to an approaching vehicle. The downstream loop is used to determine speed and axle spacing based on timing.

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