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Old 25th May 2016, 21:06   #1
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Default Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation-which operates Bangalore's bus fleet, today launched the ITS or Intelligent Transport System. This effort was started in 2012 and went through various challenges and postponements before being finally launched today. Total cost incurred is ~79 cr.

The ITS is primarily made up of 3 components
  • Vehicle tracking system (VTS): Enabled through digitization of routes with an agreement with Google, along with installation of a GPS or Vehicle Tracking Unit in each bus. As per reports close to 90% of BMTC's bus routes, numbering almost 6,400, have been digitized and 5,873 buses, out of a total of 6,388 have been fitted with a VTU.

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According to BMTC Director (IT) Bishwajit Mishra, the VTS would help in the identification of buses which skip particular bus stations, miss their scheduled departure times, deviate from their specified routes, indulge in over-speeding, are lying stationary outside of their respective depots for more than 15 minutes, and identify redundant schedules run by buses operating too closely to each other, a phenomenon the BMTC has termed `bus-bunching'.

The data from VTS are updated every 10 seconds during peak hours and 15 seconds during other times at which the frequency of buses is expected to dip and will be monitored by a BMTC control room, which will communicate with the buses through a speaker set up in each bus.
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  • Electronic ticketing system (ETS): Around 10,000 ETS Meters have been procured and this will transmit data to the backend as each ticket is issued and will be integrated with other data from VTS.

  • Passenger information system (PIS): The end user part of ITS. Includes Real time Display boards at the bus stands and several other key locations. Most importantly, also includes a Smart Phone App (Currently Android) which provides Real Time info on the buses. (More details below)

I use the BMTC Volvo's a lot and had been following this project for some time now. Personally my biggest issue with using the BMTC services is the unpredictability of the service. In the same time period-On one day there will be multiple buses, some days it will be very few (which means they will be crowded) and some days there will be no buses. The app seemed to target this exact problem. So as soon as the launch was done, decided to give it a try. Took some time to find the Android App on the Play store since there are a lot of BMTC Apps. Here is the link to the right one. BMTC

A quick review of the App with some screen shots below.



The Home Screen. Ability to search for buses and positions using a Trip Planner, Routes or Stop.

Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore-screenshot_20160525161339.png

The Trip Planner. Enter source and destination and it will ask for specific stops for both Source and Destination.

Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore-screenshot_20160525202849.png

The 'Stops' Option. Nice one. Allows to select a Stop or search for a Stop near my current location. If you select that, it shows the list of stops and distance from current location. Useful if you are in an unfamiliar area and do not know where the nearest stop is.

Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore-screenshot_20160525161355.png

Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore-screenshot_20160525161407.png

Once a stop is selected, it will show all buses in the Vicinity. You can filter by a specific route and then look at the ETA for different schedules to the stop you have selected. You can chose a map view or a list view.

Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore-screenshot_20160525161604.png

Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore-screenshot_20160525202735.png

Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore-screenshot_20160525202713.png

Shows the Status of a bus with respect to Stops as it crosses.

Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore-screenshot_20160525161313.png

The Detailed Menu. Things like Timetable and Fare Details, already available earlier.

Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore-screenshot_20160525204751.png

The Big Question: Does it all work. Being the first day after launch, I did not really expect everything to work. The good part was the App was user friendly, and all the options were working well. On the actual tracking, it did not work exactly as expected. It indicated that there were 2 buses with ETA 10-15 minutes, but there were several buses that came before that. I assume it is due to the fact that the systems have not been turned on in all the buses. Will be watching it over the next few days to see how accurate and reliable it is. If it works well, it will be a very useful option for commuters to have.

Additionally, the App and tracking is just one part of the bigger picture. The expecation and hope is that the ITS will help in overall development with respect to efficiencies and revenues. Need to wait and watch how it goes.

Source for the General Info: ET
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Old 26th May 2016, 12:36   #2
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Default re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

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Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
...Around 10,000 ETS Meters have been procured and this will transmit data to the backend as each ticket is issued and will be integrated with other data from VTS.
So, in principle, BMTC has the data to not only tell when the next bus is expected, it can also tell how "crowded" it is. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Sadly, it's an Android only app so can't try it out myself, so request you to continue to share your experience.
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Old 26th May 2016, 15:21   #3
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Default re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

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Originally Posted by Su-47 View Post
So, in principle, BMTC has the data to not only tell when the next bus is expected, it can also tell how "crowded" it is. Wouldn't that be awesome?
I'm curious how this plays out. Technically, there are two ways to travel on the bus:

get a ticket for every travel- this way, the system probably takes an input from the conductor's ticketing machine on how many tickets were dispensed and for what sector

when you have a daily/monthly pass- this is where it gets tricky. Most people, including myself a few years back, who use the bus as their primary means of transport to work, get the monthly pass. How would the system incorporate how many travelers with such passes are on board? Unless they have a way to validate a pass each time you take a journey.

For the three years that I was in B'lore, I have been thoroughly impressed by the bus network, so much so that I gladly took the bus to work. Live tracking, esp. for the airport buses is a massive help.
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Old 26th May 2016, 16:27   #4
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

Great Initiative by BMTC. This will help a lot of commuters. Also, heard on FM this morning that this App will be available in iStore for Apple users in about 45 days from now.
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Old 26th May 2016, 17:00   #5
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

A very good initiative indeed, however Bangalore folks will also indeed want the bmtc to take measures to forbid drivers and conductors from forcefully halting buses, so that they get stuffed to the brim and then slowing it down till everyone in the suffocating box of a bus has a ticket. No empathy for passengers and over it serving free lunches and dinners to breeding mosquitoes due to no maintenance. Anyone with a tryst with the 500 series buses on ORR can vouch for this. Tried doing the volvos and dedicated Orrca ones for a while but decided that car pool is better, hygienic and much less annoying even if you wade through jams. Sorry if off topic.

Last edited by AppyS : 26th May 2016 at 17:02.
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Old 26th May 2016, 17:40   #6
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
How would the system incorporate how many travelers with such passes are on board? Unless they have a way to validate a pass each time you take a journey.
Great point. This article says about 30% of travelers in BMTC are pass-holders which is quite sizeable.
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/...w/52396646.cms
Though the article does say that the integration of BMTC and metro cards is running into trouble, I hope things get resolved. And, based on comments like "expect passholders to be early adopters of this unified card", I'm thinking that it would requirement to validate one's pass/card upon boarding.

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No empathy for passengers and over it serving free lunches and dinners to breeding mosquitoes due to no maintenance. Anyone with a tryst with the 500 series buses on ORR can vouch for this.
Hahaha! I use the 500 series buses on and off (especially when I'm in no mood to spend 15 mins to take a U-turn to get into Ecospace), and can relate to the mosquitoes and the hygeine issues you have mentioned. Once I killed a mosquito and the conductor gave me a stare as if I've harmed his family :-). That said, compared to the state of public transport in other cities in our country, I find 500-series Volvos to be quite okay.

Off topic, another issues is the fear of getting mowed while crossing the ORR on foot. Happened to overhear the Ecospace property manager today, and it appears that the pedestrian walkway near Ecospace will be assembled this weekend.
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Old 26th May 2016, 19:08   #7
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

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Originally Posted by Su-47 View Post
Hahaha! I use the 500 series buses on and off (especially when I'm in no mood to spend 15 mins to take a U-turn to get into Ecospace), and can relate to the mosquitoes and the hygeine issues you have mentioned. Once I killed a mosquito and the conductor gave me a stare as if I've harmed his family :-). That said, compared to the state of public transport in other cities in our country, I find 500-series Volvos to be quite okay.

Off topic, another issues is the fear of getting mowed while crossing the ORR on foot. Happened to overhear the Ecospace property manager today, and it appears that the pedestrian walkway near Ecospace will be assembled this weekend.
Bingo im stuck in ecospace too and totally understand the pains of taking the u turns eitherways and traffic jams inside ecospace itself, one of the worst places to work in bangalore per se. Hopefully the skywalk atleast ensures pedestrian safety till the mosquitoes kick in , inside the volvo premium ac buses.
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Old 26th May 2016, 19:43   #8
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Default Elevated bus in China

While BMTC is still figuring out such a low hanging fruit, some great innovation in China:
http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/chinas-e...e-specialevent

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Unveiled on May 22 at the 19th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo, the scaled version of the bus seems like it could be the smooth future of public transportation. The elevated bus, meant to carry passengers from one station to another, will be able to glide over cars on the road and help reduce traffic in the process.

"With a carrying capacity of 1,200 people at a time, the TEB has the same functions as the subway while its cost of construction is less than one fifth of the subway. Its construction can be finished in one year," Bai Zhiming, the engineer in charge of the project, told CCTV News.

Last edited by chakri400 : 26th May 2016 at 19:58.
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Old 26th May 2016, 20:47   #9
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

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Originally Posted by Su-47 View Post
So, in principle, BMTC has the data to not only tell when the next bus is expected, it can also tell how "crowded" it is. Wouldn't that be awesome?
A very interesting point. They collect this data to see the route and trip utilization. But that can be done offline as part of a regular reporting exercise. Measurement of 'Crowd' and making it available should technically should be possible, but would involve a lot of data crunching and horsepower to do it near real time. Hopefully it will happen if this whole thing becomes successful.

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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
I'm curious how this plays out. Technically, there are two ways to travel on the bus:

when you have a daily/monthly pass- this is where it gets tricky. Most people, including myself a few years back, who use the bus as their primary means of transport to work, get the monthly pass. How would the system incorporate how many travelers with such passes are on board? Unless they have a way to validate a pass each time you take a journey.
.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Su-47 View Post
Great point. This article says about 30% of travelers in BMTC are pass-holders which is quite sizeable.
Yes, pass-holders make up a big chunk. I use a pass myself. The conductors via their ticketing machines do have an option to 'record' that a pass holder has boarded. I have seen conductors entering something on their machines after checking my pass. But not all of them do that. So I think they have a way to include the pass holders into the passenger list for the trip so that they show up in the utilization metrics. But there is not a tracking as to when a pass holder gets off the bus. So the concept of how "crowded" the bus is will not be accurate with pass holders
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Old 27th May 2016, 10:20   #10
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

In the iOS app, the only thing working are the advertisements. Installed it yesterday night and tried everything. There is a message displaying 'Loading' and thats it.
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Old 27th May 2016, 11:12   #11
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

Why can't we digitize the monthly passes? Something like the office ID cards we have. We can put in a system like this:
When you buy a monthly pass you get a smart card against a refundable deposit of lets say Rs. 30 and this card is linked to your online BMTC account. This cards can be read by the ticketing machine during a journey and the online account shall be charged. Making it online also helps you to recharge your account easily on the go. The same may be extended to metros, trains and all forms of public transport to make them cashless.
#randomThoughts

Last edited by GTO : 27th May 2016 at 12:46. Reason: Typo
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Old 27th May 2016, 13:13   #12
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Default Re: Elevated bus in China

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Originally Posted by chakri400 View Post
While BMTC is still figuring out such a low hanging fruit, some great innovation in China:
That is just a simulation. May be years away actual deployment (that too if any city signs up). BTW, BRT concept has failed in Bangalore. This straddled bus concept requires dedicated 2 lanes and at least a lane for taller vehicles. May be BBMP & BMTC can collaborate and use ORR's slit flyover design to run this service between the flyovers
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Originally Posted by amitdatta92 View Post
Why can't we digitize the monthly passes?
While the primary purpose of BMTC is provide transport service, 2nd purpose is to provide employment to its drivers & conductors (look how they run full Volvo schedules on Saturdays, Sunday with 1 passenger per bus). So if they digitize passes, the conductors will be unemployed (just kidding)
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In the iOS app, the only thing working are the advertisements. Installed it yesterday night and tried everything. There is a message displaying 'Loading' and thats it.
Not much use for this app on Android either. Yesterday, I tried at the stop near my home. I could see at least 5 volvos. But in the app it showed only one.
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Old 27th May 2016, 15:26   #13
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

Excellent initiative by BMTC !
Considering the dependence of a huge number of people on buses, something of this kind would certainly help ease customer woes. What we see here is, not just the app or the platform to track buses, but to make it highly real-time as well. The main challenge here is technological again, but atleast we are a step forward in the right direction. If we get such 'transport' tracking systems in India, it will give a big boost to public transport travel. Especially to cities with a circular-like geographical spread (eg Delhi, Bangalore etc) where in peak hours 'Everybody travels everywhere! 'Its totally unlike Mumbai where we can anticipate the traffic direction. In my trip to Bangalore in July last year, i was also particularly confused with the bus numbering system. The nomenclature of 368A,368B,368C,368D,...,and so on was very confusing to me. So this system will be more helpful

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Originally Posted by amitdatta92 View Post
Why can't we digitize the monthly passes? This cards can be read by the ticketing machine during a journey and the online account shall be charged. Making it online also helps you to recharge your account easily on the go. The same may be extended to metros, trains and all forms of public transport to make them cashless.
We have something like this for bus travel here i Mumbai. You can purchase a 'smartcard' and need to produce this to the conductor. The conductor gives you a ticket and the ticket amount is deducted from the card. There is no route restriction and the card can be recharged from the nearest bus depot/kiosk. The best part is, a person holding this card can take a ticket for upto 4 people with him! You get the same 5% additional bonus money value on every recharge (exactly as the Suburban Railway offers). In my case, the use of the smartcard proves cheaper than making a monthly pass! And i get cashless travel comfort as well. So we now have a smartcard for BEST buses, suburban trains and Mumbai Metro, though all three are separate.

Last edited by dreamliner17 : 27th May 2016 at 15:29.
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Old 31st May 2016, 16:29   #14
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

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Originally Posted by dreamliner17 View Post
So we now have a smartcard for BEST buses, suburban trains and Mumbai Metro, though all three are separate.
MMRDA is working on a common card for all modes of transport in Mumbai. Titled as Integrated ticket management system and also hopes to involve not only BEST, CR, WR but also transport nodes of TMT and NMMT as well.

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Old 31st May 2016, 22:16   #15
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Default Re: Review: App for BMTC's Buses, Bangalore

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Originally Posted by amitdatta92 View Post
Why can't we digitize the monthly passes? Something like the office ID cards we have. We can put in a system like this:
When you buy a monthly pass you get a smart card against a refundable deposit of lets say Rs. 30 and this card is linked to your online BMTC account. This cards can be read by the ticketing machine during a journey and the online account shall be charged. Making it online also helps you to recharge your account easily on the go. The same may be extended to metros, trains and all forms of public transport to make them cashless.
#randomThoughts
Guess what?. This system is already in place in our small town Udupi. Here, private city bus operators are issuing RFID passes for almost 3 years now. This is for daily commuters who will get concessional rates. They have to recharge their passes once in a month. The conductor in the bus has a ticket printing machine which also scans these passes, deducts the exact fare for the trip and prints out the slip showing balance money in the account. This is extremely useful in city buses as neither passengers nor the conductor has to search for exact change.
Not just this, a few years ago, private bus operators in Udupi, Mangalore region had started an announcement system in their buses. This system had some sort of GPS connection (I guess) and could tell exactly which bus stop is approaching (something similar to what we see in some trains). The system was very accurate. They also had plans to generate some income through advertisement. Sadly they stopped it after few months for some reasons. If a small town bus operators can implement high end technologies like these, why cant the BMTC or metros?
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