How can Asian cities benefit from ITS

How can Asian cities benefit from ITS
More and more, municipal governments are turning to intelligent transport systems (ITS) as they seek to make their cities smarter and more livable. Asian cities can especially benefit, given their inclination towards congestion and other traffic-related problems.
Indeed, municipalities across the globe are placing a stronger emphasis on smart city initiatives, in which transportation plays an important part. To address issues from congestion to effective finding of parking spaces, cities are turning to ITS. European cities especially have done a good job in this regard.
“Some ITS technologies are already well integrated into modern life. For instance, many of us rely on apps to manage our travel patterns, like Waze for deciding which route to take, or Uber and Grab for ride sharing,” said a recent blog post by the Asian Development Bank. “Other apps highlight the fastest bicycle routes or tell us which train lines are in service. They help us determine which transport mode to use at what time, and how long a journey will take.”

Asian examples

Similar to Europe, more and more Asian countries are also relying on ITS to improve transportation. Examples include Indonesia, where ITS is becoming more and more popular.
The ADB blog post corroborated this and cited other examples. “Singapore’s congestion pricing scheme employs a user pay system to differentiate driving costs in the city at various hours of the day. The contactless smart card system in Hong Kong, China makes taking public transportation much more convenient, and has pioneered a ubiquitous method of cashless spending in the city. Finally, Seoul’s bus information system provides passengers with real-time arrivals and departures, increasing both user satisfaction and ridership,” it said.
China, especially, is doing well in this regard, according to the post. “The recently unveiled Xiong’an New Area Masterplan in the People’s Republic of China hopes to push ITS penetration even further by controlling traffic through a targeted 80 percent mode share of public transport in 20 years, but also capitalizing on ITS technology to help create modern, green and livable cities,” it said. “Like Xiong’an, Gui'an New District in Guizhou Province aims to use ITS to curb traffic congestion and related negative impacts before they start. Anticipated to become a key economic hub in the western PRC, Gui’an is targeting 60 percent public transport and 80 percent green transport mode shares to meet a planned population increase of over 120 percent by 2030.”

Return on investment

According to the post, although not all countries can take such ambitious approaches to developing their own ITS, with suitable preparation many will find that some level of ITS implementation is well within reach. “To achieve this goal, countries should specifically include ITS creation in their national development plans and transport master plans,” it said. “Once national ITS architecture and standards are devised to optimize data integration and communication, specific ITS projects can be designed, and investment will follow.”
The post argues that while coming up with ITS funding may initially seem daunting, these projects in fact cost less than transport capital projects, are rarely standalone, and generate return on investment. “For example, when developing a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, a bus information system (BIS) is included as part of the project. The cost of the BIS a fraction of the cost of constructing the BRT lanes and purchasing buses. But the BIS will help improve the user environment and fare collection, which in turn encourages the use and sustainability of the BRT system,” it said.

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