Insight: Intelligent Transport Systems in India


In this insight, EBTC's Transport Sector Specialist, Mr. Dibyendu Sengupta looks at the applications and initiatives for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in India.


Applications of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the transport industry are referred to as Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). The EU Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG-MOVE) define ITS as “several combinations of communication, computer and control technology developed and applied in the domain of transport to improve system performance, transport safety, efficiency, productivity, and level of service, environmental impacts, energy consumption, and mobility.” (1)

The majority of Indian cities suffer from increasing population and motorisation and its resultant problems – congestion, excessive delays, low average speeds and toxic emissions. Implementation of Implementations in developed countries show that ITS technologies have a big potential in alleviating all of these problems. Transmission of information, using ICT applications, are an important step towards improvement of the quality of movement (both people and goods) along the road network of a city. (4)

Technologies and Applications
ITS applications can be across all modes of transport, and can be broadly categorised into the following segments :

  • Telecommunication systems.
  • Public access mobile radio networks (GSM, UMTS, etc.)
  • Private mobile networks and network services dedicated to road transport operators (including private mobile radio (PMR), dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), vehicle‐to‐vehicle and vehicle‐to infrastructure technologies.
  • Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).
  • Radio frequency identification (RFid); Smart cards; Video identification technology.
  • Automatic Vehicle Location Systems (AVLS).
  • GPS based; Cellular networks; Systems based on automatic identification devices, in case of fixed routes.
  • Traffic data collection and automatic classification systems.
  • Video, microwave, magnetic detection.
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
  • Cartographic databases and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The broad classification of ITS technologies are often done in the following manner:

  • Traveller information – which include services to support traveller decisions making before and during the trip – which travel mode to use, start time, specific route etc.
  • Traffic management – for management of traffic flow on roads.
  • Demand management – Services to reduce traffic demand on roads and congestion in city centres by charging for road use and promoting use of other travel modes.
  • Road management – which includes physical maintenance of roads/pavements including repairs.
  • Advance driving assistance – Automated systems to improve the performance of the vehicle and the driver to make driving safer.
  • Electronic Financial Transactions – Services to allow automatic electronic payment of tolls and fees and also entrance to restricted city centre and parking.
  • Commercial Vehicle Management – Services to support fleet and freight management including fleet management, automatic safety and credential checking at borders.
  • Public Transport Management – Services to improve the convenience and performance of public transport, such as schedule management, fare payment etc.
  • Incident and Hazard Response – Respond to accidents and emergencies.

ITS Initiatives in India

Several ITS projects have been undertaken in India in the past decade. In the area of Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) a pilot project was undertaken in the Chandigarh-Parwanoo stretch on NH-5. Based on the success of this several ETC are being planned. A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) based ETC had been built on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Highway on a 95-km stretch.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Corridors are being implemented with increased pace all over the country. ITS technologies have been implemented on BRT Corridors including the Indore BRT which has transit signal priority, vehicle tracking and automatic fare collection. Similarly, the Pimpri-Chinchwad (Pune) BRT has vehicle tracking and automated fare collection.

A complete citywide implementation of ITS technologies was undertaken by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) in the city of Mysore, the main thrust of which was to improve the efficiency of the bus system. Another similar effort has been planned in Hyderabad under the “ITS Master Plan” which is planned to be implemented in in three phases spread over 10 years at a cost of INR 1,180 crore (approx € EUR 140 Million ) and use various technologies like Automatic Traffic Counter-cum-Classifiers (ATCC), Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTV), Variable Messaging Systems, Traffic Signals, Pedestrian Signals, Flood Sensors, Weather Stations, and Pollution Sensors.

The B-TRAC project was initiated by Bangalore Traffic Police and focussed on use of ITS for enforcement. The components of B-TRAC included a centrally controlled traffic signalling system, camera enforcement, speed Interceptors, mobile enforcement, and Variable Message Signs (VMS). The project has resulted in improved traffic regulation and reduction in road accidents.

ITS implementations for parking management - which fall under the category of Advanced Parking Management Systems (APMS) - have two examples in Delhi:

Parking lot at Palika Bazar– which has a capacity to park 1050 cars and 500 two wheelers and uses Electronic Parking Guidance and VMS Smart Cards.
The Automated multi-level parking in Sarojini Nagar Market.
In South and Central Mumbai, 253 signals form a network under Area Traffic Control (ATC) are centrally controlled from a traffic operations centre (TOC). The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) intends to extend this network by installing smart signals at 367 of the busiest junctions in the Mumbai suburbs (3).

Business potential in India

Indian cities, like many cities in the developing world, face severe air pollution and congestion issues. With the current growth, most cities face a gridlock situation in the near future. Hence, applications of ITS to obtain congestions relief and also obtain environmental benefits. However, because of the inherent differences that the Indian cities have from their western counterparts (non-motorised transport, poor driver behaviour, lack of enforcement etc.) applications of ITS would also be different.

The NTDPC Report (2) states that “….policy also needs to make it mandatory for the Transport operators”

  • To establish a Central Command centre to monitor and manage the system with 24x7 Help Desk;
  • Training to drivers on use of new technologies;
  • GPS (or similar) devices, speed governors, along with driver feedback systems;
  • Internet hotspots and kiosks at bus and train stations; surveillance and security systems;
  • Contactless smart card systems for payment and to provide service related updates through electronic means.

The focus of the report is on technologies for two specific purposes:

  • Enforcement such as speed cameras, red-light running cameras.
  • Vehicle inspection and maintenance – centralised operations, remote video surveillance.

ebtc-news 140912 fig-1 report-of-working-group-on-urban-transport smallsize

Figure 1: ICT Implementation Plan (Source: Final Report, Working Group on Urban Transport, NTDPC, Ministry of Urban Development, March 2012)


1. Intelligent Transport Systems: Thematic Research Summary, Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG-MOVE), European Commission, 2010
2. Final Report, Working Group on Urban Transport, National Transport Development Policy Committee, Ministry of Urban Development, March 2012
3. Times of India report, January 2013.

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