Friday, June 21, 2024

China employs digital technologies to optimize transport capacity

Live bus arrival times are shown on an electronic bus stop display in Qingdao, east China's Shandong province. (Photo by Zhang Jin'gang/People's Daily Online)

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Shi Ling

At 6:30 am, bus driver Xiao Xinhua in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian province drove a No.37 bus to the train station. After arriving at the station, the information on the route display of his bus was changed to M9 from No. 37, and the man then headed for another destination.

This is a flexible bus dispatching model adopted by Xiamen, which enables a bus to run on different routes. Based on the big data analysis of passenger flow, the system effectively integrates the resources of drivers and vehicles and optimizes capacity distribution, thus diverting buses to places in need.

From carriages to steam locomotives, and to intelligent vehicles, the transport industry has gone through a big transition from an era of transport capacity to a time of algorithms, which will significantly change public transportation and travel services.

To optimize transport capacity with algorithms is not only about making vehicles intelligent. Cameras and lidars on the streets can collect data of pedestrians, vehicles, road markings, stations, roads and parking spaces and then send them to a "city brain" that manages urban traffic. The "city brain" would then generate graded plans to optimize public transport in a targeted manner.

Intelligent transport gives better experiences to passengers.

In Wuhan, central China's Hubei province, many buses are equipped with panoramic camera systems that help reduce the driver's blind spots and thus make bus trips safer.

In Changsha, central China's Hunan province, traffic lights at crossroads would turn green priorly as appropriate when intelligent buses pass through, which makes bus trips faster.

In Haikou, south China's Hainan province, many passengers have found lost items on buses thanks to a positioning system.

Digital technologies have bolstered public transport services. Public transport, being economical, energy-efficient, eco-friendly, convenient and comfortable, will become a travel choice for more people.

Employees of Qingdao Zhenqing Bus Group in east China's Shandong province check the operation of buses in an intelligent commanding center. (Photo by Zhang Jin'gang/People's Daily Online)

Intelligent public transport not only features higher efficiency and better experience, but also offers additional services through smart bus stations and other facilities to meet passengers' diverse demands.

For instance, electronic bus stop displays can offer a wide range of services, including displaying weather information, bus routes and live bus arrival times, as well as Wi-Fi connection and free mobile phone charging. In addition, they also come with surveillance cameras and SOS alert devices to better ensure passengers' safety. Such displays are especially friendly to special groups, such as seniors.

The advancing digital technologies and new application scenarios will endow public transport with a bigger space for improvement.

Recently, a demonstration project of an intelligent public transport system developed by Xiamen passed acceptance inspection by the Ministry of Transport. With this system, buses equipped with BRT (bus rapid transit) can automatically stop at each station without human operation, and when a bus is not at a safe distance from the car in front, two cars will activate a collision prevention system.

An autonomous sightseeing vehicle runs along a scenic belt in Xiangyang, central China's Hubei province. (Photo by Yang Dong/People's Daily Online)

Besides, an intelligent guiding system can recommend optimal power plans for buses to make trips smoother. Digital technologies are making public transport more convenient and safer.

Public transport concerns the efficiency of social functioning as well as the life quality of every individual. The application of digital technologies can optimize urban transport capacity, improve transport efficiency, and make transport smoother, thus meeting people's expectations for a better life.

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