Improving public transport efficiency and service in three major cities
The scope of project activities ranges from policy, strategy and technical guidelines at the central level, to policy, strategy, implementation and monitoring and evaluation at the local level. To establish models as well as to evaluate the impact of various public transport improvements and travel demand management measures across a range of cities, three large cities were selected for pilot demonstration: Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, Chengdu in Sichuan Province, and Harbin in Heilongjiang Province.
Like other big cities in China, these three cities have experienced a rapid increase in car ownership and usage in recent years. By 2017, Suzhou had more than 3 million vehicles, about 300 vehicles per thousand people; Chengdu had 4.7 million vehicles, second only to Beijing; and Harbin had 1.62 million vehicles and counting.
The intelligent transport system (ITS) has proved to be an effective tool in managing urban traffic and reducing congestion. The project has supported the use of ITS in the urban traffic and public transport command centers, which play a central role in keeping the city and its transport running smoothly. Equipped with state-of-the-art ITS technologies, the Suzhou Public Transport Command Center provides a real-time, integrated view of the city's bus transportation network composed of 370 bus routes and 4,680 buses carrying a daily passenger volume of 1.5 million. The center performs real-time monitoring, scheduling, route and dispatch management with the goals of improving the accessibility and reliability of bus service.
The traffic management centers partner with digital mapping companies such as Gaode and Baidu to share information on traffic conditions and congestions. The real-time information is reflected on Gaode and Baidu maps to help users plan their journey. The center can also detect traffic accidents and take actions quickly to prevent road congestion. The new Harbin Public Transport Command Center is expected to monitor the 208 bus routes, nearly 6,000 buses and all the bus stops around the city when it goes into operation later this year. In addition, surveillance cameras installed at major taxi stands and bus stops help regulate taxi operations and keep people from parking at bus stops.
Fast, convenient, reliable and comfortable bus services can attract more people to public transport. Bus priority has been introduced in all three cities. Bus-only lanes have reached 225, 357 and 110 kilometers in Suzhou, Chengdu and Harbin respectively. Suzhou has also installed traffic signals that give left-turning buses priority at some road intersections. “The signal gives the bus a 10-second head start over other vehicles,” said Ai Jixiang, a deputy leader of the city’s traffic police detachment.
Clean-energy buses fueled by gas and electricity are replacing old diesel-fueled vehicles, with their share steadily increasing in the bus fleets of the three cities. The air-conditioned new buses not only carry more passengers but make rides more comfortable. The three cities are also offering alternative forms of bus services such as bus rapid transit (BRT) and express buses which enable people to travel more quickly.