Combining techniques, technologies and processes that are - individually - in place today, cities and indeed states and countries can remove congestion and pollution from urban and in particular inner city areas:
- Road Usage or Congestion Charges puts a premium on road usage in inner cities during rush hour, creating an incentive to use public transportation, bikes, or to walk. This concept is rolled out in more and more metropolitan areas, with some countries aiming at replacing traditional car-related taxes with Road Usage Charges;
- Integrated Fare Management allows the users of public transportation to use a multitude of different modes of transportation with a single, integrated “ticket”. This convenient and inexpensive concept is a reality in many cities in the industrialized world, but the metro areas in the growth markets have not yet fully embraced it.
In addition, parking at public Park&Ride stations is oftentimes not integrated with the public transportation fare management;
- Smart traffic status reporting and forecasting can further avoid congestion by directing drivers to less congested routes. While some areas have a certain level of intelligent traffic routing via GPS and FM, the vast majority of urban areas rely on the reporting of existing traffic conditions;
- Rent-On-Demand solutions for bicycles and cars are gaining popularity in some metro areas. Especially the concept of picking up and dropping of bicycles at designated spots near stations has proven quite successful.
By combining all of these concepts into a single smart transport solution, cities could truly reduce congestion and pollution while at the same time providing the citizens and visitors an inexpensive, fast and environmentally way of moving through the city. Here are a few scenarios:
- Using smart card technology, the cost of road usage, parking, and public transportation could be dynamically calculated. For example the cost for P&R parking, road usage and an integrated public transportation ticket could be calculated based on the distance the car was parked away from the final destination in the inner city, the time of day, and the number of passengers in the car. Commuters that leave their car outside the city would be rewarded with cheaper public transportation.
- Smart public transportation tickets can offer the user the cheapest fare over time: Rather than having to decide each time whether to buy a single ride, multi-ride, or daily/weekly/monthly ticket, the fare could automatically be calculated based on the least expensive option using data collected on previous rides through the use of smart cards: A single ride would automatically be changed to a multi ride if that is more economically, etc. Fares would be deducted from associated accounts or “Wallets” embedded on the smart card.
- Traffic routing solutions could be integrated with systems providing status information on public transport and parking congestion, as well as road usage cost, ultimately recommending to drivers the quickest and most economical way to get to their destination. A recommendation could for example be to use a particular P&R station instead of driving to the destination, thereby saving x minutes and a cost of y.
Portsmouth, RI, USA
Marcus Umbach #gdchallenge