Bangladesh: Bus Data for Dhaka
Traffic congestion is a huge issue in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. The system fails with exceeding long travel times and pollution, while the dilapidated and unreliable public transport system is pushing more people towards private transport.
As a result, private cars are said to use over 70% (2011) of the available space on Dhaka’s streets, although car ownership records only 3 cars per 1000 people nationally.
Traffic congestion is no longer just a simple impediment, but eating up almost 6% of Bangladesh's annual GDP.
Watch the animation below to see how the life of an individual citizen is under such problem.
Real-time Traffic Data on Mobile
There are many ways to tackle the issue, and this pilot project wants to address what the commuters care about the most: reliability of public transportation.
A smartphone mobile app called "GoTraffic" will tell citizens in Dhaka who take buses how long it will take to travel to their destination. The project will be first implemented along the Motijheel to Uttara’s Abdullahpur route for commuters of state-run BRTC buses.
A behavioral change approach has been adopted to address this problem. A mobile-accessible platform is launched, adopting technology such as Vehicle Tracking GPS systems which provides real-time information on the current traffic flow of buses. Supplementary traffic data is also supplied by GoBD, a local start-up venture, from two sources: collected through a dedicated 12-member team of GoBD that are deployed at certain intersections of the city, and crowdsourced from users across Dhaka who posted their updates on one Facebook group that has more than 17,000 members.
The commuters are therefore regularly updated on the schedule of the buses. At the Dhaka Bus system end, an algorithm has been designed to compute average time that a bus takes to reach its destination. Through maps uploaded on the mobile App, customers will know routes for each bus, which would make it convenient for them to make travel plans beforehand.
The initiative is able to reduce traffic flow, thereby leading to less traffic jams. With more commuters opting for public transport, environmental pollution is expected to drop. Convenience for customers, who can plan their trips ahead, based on real-time information of bus arrival and departure and information on routes through maps.
The GoTransit partnership is among the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Bangladesh Road and Transport Corporation (BRTC), and GoBD.
If you speak the local language, watch the interview below to learn more:
Behind Social Norms - Why not bus?
Focusing on reliability is not a arbitrary and spontaneous decision. UNDP designed a programme last year to find out the the reasons and motivations behind people’s decision to preference cars over public transport.
In mid-July 2014, ten 'transport pioneers' who usually travel by private car - some had never used public transportation in their lives - got on bus rides for a week.
Their experience revealed that the #1 reason for not using public transport is unreliability of the service, mainly concerning punctuality and travel time: no matter how shiny the bus is, it is unusable if it doesn’t get you to your destination on time.
This seemed to outweigh other reasons such as sexual harassment, overcrowding, discomfort, safety risks, wet seats in case of rain and athletic ability required to mount a bus that refuses to stop.
"I ride the bus!"
Most of the Transport Pioneers also reported that despite the possible drawbacks, the experience 'wasn't that bad' and in the end shared a desire to use public transport.
Targeting such population - those who are choosing cars as their prime means of travel but can be given an alternative - UNDP ran an awareness raising campaign to change their perceptions and 'move the people' towards public transportation system.
The campaign was rolled out through various media channels, while solutions were tested and sought for running a quality bus service within the current traffic situation - and finally came the birth of GoTransit.
Strengthened efforts to create a public transport option will continue to be entailed, in the hope of meeting expectations for safety, convenience, comfort, timelines and cost for those who would otherwise use a private vehicle.
Project Timeline (Pilot Phase)
Page last updated: Mar 1, 2016