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Public Transport System Comparison Study - Vienna and Bangalore

PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEMS | COMPARISION STUDY - RESEARCH PROJECT | 2011


Vienna ( Wien ) is considered to have one of the world’s efficient public transport system. As a school funded project, I could conduct a research on the public perception and behaviors towards public transport and study the latest innovations in real-time traffic information. I later compared the traffic discipline in Bangalore to come up with few solutions to solve some of the key problems identified.



Situation

With the tremendous growth in the automobile industry and growth in vehicular population among the metropolitan cities the problems like traffic congestion, accidents, pollution etc. increase day after day. There is an enormous need to be aware of the information about the traffic and other updates in fast urban life.


My Role

As a visiting researcher, I interviewed commuters of public transport, bicycle riders, car drivers and pedestrians. I observed the behavior patterns and collected quantative data of daily traffic. I also had the opportunity to meet the teams of Real Time Information department of public transport systems (ASFINAG). In Bangalore, I observed the pedestrain and driver behavior and conducted interviews.

Approach

This project explores the various modalities and comparisons between Bangalore and Vienna ‘s transport models, the perception of public towards the traffic system. It was an extensive study covering the following :
In Vienna
1. Observational research of the city road and traffic infrastructure
2. Attending the IIID Conference on Real Time Information
3. Interactive sessions with speakers from industry about the real-time information systems and traffic update services.
4. Public interviews on their perception of the transport system in the city
5. Quantitative research on the traffic flow in interior parts of the city.
6. Studying tourist information office and ticket vending machines.
7. Visiting traffic control and safety departments ( ASFINAG ) to have personal interaction with the subject matter experts.

In Bangalore
1. Observational research of the city road and traffic infrastructure
2. Public interviews

Infrastructure in Vienna – Observational Research


Separate bike lanes
Apart from the pedestrians, bicycle riders have separate lanes and signals. Cycling is regarded as an important mode of transport and building infrastructure around it improves the traffic management. Being eco-friendly, it is gaining popularity for short commutes.

Parking space information
Information about parking spaces is shown on the board having a digital display to show the status and availability. It helps drivers to plan ahead and choose the appropriate space. Also decreases congestion near parking areas/roads. In the above picture, parking information is shown by the Green Glowing LEDs which represent they are free to occupy and the roof shows that it is an Indoor parking area. A uniform convention is followed throughout the city to denote NO PARKING in front of the doorway.

Signage
LED programmable display boards are present in the subway metro stations offering high visibility.

Pavements
A tactile texture is used throughout the city to denote the geographical limit for people while crossing roads or while waiting for the underground metro. A common and uniform design is maintained through the city. The multi-sensory attribute of the design is attained and intuitively it registers in our mind and allows us to adhere to the system.

Pedestrian Crossing Comparison
People take only Zebra lines to cross the road and wait for Green signal pedestrian crossing. Traffic education and discipline are inculcated in children by the school and parents. In, India mostly the road discipline is missing and pedestrians tend to cross the road at random spots often taking the shortest route. People take only Zebra lines to cross the road and wait for Green signal pedestrian crossing. Traffic education and discipline are inculcated in children by the school and parents. In, India mostly the road discipline is missing and pedestrians tend to cross the road at random spots often taking the shortest route.



Public Behavior and Perception – Interviews in Vienna


Motivation to follow traffic rules
Most of the people are conscious of their safety as well as others reasons can be proper education. Few respondents react as per the situation. To some extent fine/penalty also helps people follow or obey traffic rules.

How do people access the traffic information?
The Internet is seemingly the powerful medium to deliver and access route/traffic information. A good information design also helps the print medium to help commuters. There is a lot of scope in delivering content via mobile.

Preferable mode of transport?
Fast and reliable subway is preferred by most of the people. The bicycle is preferred as it is cheap and the distances are comfortable to commute.

Most common problem solved by traffic police?
Parking space availability for drivers.


Interviews with Subject Matter Experts during Field Visit


I have got the opportunity to visit the Wiener Linien Office which manages the underground U-Bahn subway lines and the surface trams. I could get information regarding the various activities they perform. Some of the main activities performed at this center are :
• Reporting to the police in case of an accident.
• Delaying or speeding up the trains to reduce the waiting time of the passengers in the stations.
• Sending the buses more frequently to the areas with more passengers at the stop.
• Managing the information to be displayed on the boards at various stations.

An app that presents the real-time information of the U-Bahn to passengers.


Infrastructure in Bangalore – Observational Research


Bangalore is the third most populous city in India and the 28th most populous city in the world. Rapid population growth because of IT and other associated industries in Bangalore led to an increase in the vehicular population to about 1.5 million, with an annual growth rate of 7-10%. With the increase in population and the expansion of the city, the problem of connectivity of the populace has arisen. Quite obviously personalized modes of transport have grown at a tremendous rate and two-wheelers along with the cars almost comprise 90% of the total registered vehicular population in the city.

The infrastructure is not easily accessible to the public. The consistency in the infrastructure is missing and possible misuse is also one reason for which the for the inadequate infrastructure. The traffic lights at certain junctions don’t properly function. Also, there is no proper maintenance undertaken by the government. Although there are certain reporting mechanisms but are not very efficient.

New buildings like malls and movie complexes are built and rarely have any pedestrian crossing facilities provided on the road. A proper relationship between the private and traffic department should exist for a better traffic management and pedestrian safety.

Pedestrians walk along the road divider which is not suitable while crossing the road and possess danger. The vehicles do not stop behind the line putting pedestrians crossing the road in trouble.


Public Behavior and Perception – Interviews in Bangalore


Most frequently used mode of transportation
Although most of the commuters take public transport modes like metro and bus, still a higher share prefers two wheelers and four wheelers. It indicates that more convenient facilities should be provided in the public transport to attract all other commuters.

Drivers change their usual route because…
Most of the people change their routes to avoid traffic. There is a need to design new traffic management plans like route diversion etc for a better system. Also, there is a need for information about alternate routes as a considerable number of people explore other routes.

Access route or traffic information from
Most of the people assume the traffic conditions. This shows more credible information about the traffic condition is needed. A system based on crowdsourcing can be devised for efficient delivery of traffic information.


Key problems that need to be addressed in India


1. Traffic education and discipline in motorists and pedestrians.
2. Real-time information for motorists in more efficient means.
To take the research findings forward I came up with two concepts as possible solutions to the problems.

Concept 1: An appraisal system which tracks the traffic discipline of its employees based on signal jumping.

Concept 2 : Presenting real-time information about traffic on the mobile phone, and suggesting alternate routes to the user. I further worked on the above two concepts adopting User-Centered Design methodology.