+ BACKGROUND, CHALLENGES AND OBJECTIVES
- Challenges with the Existing Transportation System
Seoul’s transportation system had suffered from chronic problems caused by the growing number of vehicles, which significantly deteriorated service quality of intra-city buses and the subway system. Despite various efforts made by the city government, such as the opening of new subway lines and expansion of road networks, the city’s already-saturated transportation facilities unveiled serious limitations. The urgent need for a highly advanced transport information system thus emerged.
- Need for an Integrated Information System
Approximately 30 years ago, the city has enforced diverse transportation policies, some of which worked only temporarily. An ultimate system that integrates various transportation modes was needed as a more fundamental and affordable solution.
- Absence of Management System
Various information involving transportation cards, bus operation, traffic volume, speed, emergencies like accidents and protest rallies on roads, has been produced by many different sources − including the SMG, the Traffic Broadcasting System (TBS), the Korean Expressway Corporation and private bodies. A consistent and integrated management was critical.
While setting up the Transport Operation and Information System (TOPIS), the city government also carried out the exclusive median bus lane system and the Quasi-public Bus Operation Project. Despite its good intentions, however, the city faced strong resistance from interested parties such as bus companies opposing to the quasi-public operation, and street vendors against the idea of moving bus lanes from roadside to central lanes.
Solution: Persuasion and Civic Engagement
Faced with the resistance from street vendors, the SMG tried to persuade them through continuous discussions. Along with the bus association, it organised workshops for the reform of Seoul’s bus operation system, where it coordinated conflicting views and guaranteed management rights and reasonable compensation respectively to the bus companies and street vendors. Though a consensus was made in the end, developing a framework for information-sharing and smooth cooperation among all the relevant parties was challenging, thus limitations followed in encouraging active engagement.
Faced with these obstacles, the city continued discussions with all the concerned parties including police stations, fire stations, military bases and nearby local governments to gain consensus on the need of building an integrated transportation management system.
- Development of a Real time information sharing and management of bus operation system to enhance user convenience and attract more passengers to use public transportation
- Collecting traffic information to alleviate road congestion and respond more promptly and efficiently to unexpected situations.
- Development of scientific public transportation policies based on collected data and research
+ ACTIONS AND IMPLEMENTATION
- Real-time Monitoring of Traffic and Information
The SMG discloses real-time traffic information 24/7 throughout the year. By linking 741 CCTVs in the city, it figures out traffic conditions of major roads at a glance and share the road control and congestion information. For example, if there is any accident, roadworks or protest rallies, the Seoul Police Agency and the TBS report each other. This also allows citizens to check any outbreak of unexpected situations through the city’s website, mobile-apps, and social media platforms.
- Bus Management System (BMS) for Scientific Operation
By utilising satellite technology, the BMS innovated Seoul city’s bus operations (9,400 vehicles and 610 routes), leading to a significant increase in punctuality and accuracy of the operation intervals.
- Real-time Information on Public Transportation Operation
Citizens now benefit from real-time traffic information including arrival times of any public transportion modes (buses and subways) through various means such as the Internet, mobile devices, BIT, and QR code. As the city now allows private developers to utilise the information, the service has become truly available for everyone.
- Complete Overhaul of Bus Numbering System
For consistent management of traffic information, buses with particular numbers were supposed to operate on a given route. However, in Seoul, the numbers were allocated as requested by the bus companies, causing the system to be less organized and confusing. To resolve this issue, the SMG implemented a reform orientation by which a bus number indicates the driving direction so that users can now easily match stopovers and destinations. Buses are now classified into operating lines, color-coded with blue, green, red and yellow respectively.
- Evolution from TOPIS 1.0 to TOPIS 3.0
The Traffic Operation Information System has evolved from the era of the “Cutting-edge (TOPIS 1.0)” to “Openness (TOPIS 2.0),” to the current “Collaboration (TOPIS 3.0)”. It is now seeking to share its know-how with foreign cities, along with private tech-companies, while bracing itself for the future transportation needs such as traffic forecasting systems using big data.
+ OUTCOMES AND IMPACTS
Bus companies: Growing number of Passengers
More regular intervals and predictable arrival times attracted more passengers to riding buses. With greater control over drivers speed-driving, there are now less accidents with paying less insurance. Above all, the bus companies are now able to regulate drivers’ illegal operations such as passing by a bus stop without stopping. The TOPIS increased the bus companies’ profitability, as well as overall quality of service.
Reinvigorated Public Transportation
With the public transportation system becoming more convenient and easily accessible, the city has regained public trust. As mentioned earlier, TOPIS’s advanced scientific operation and management has reinforced accuracy and profitability of the system. The exclusive median bus lane system run in parallel also contributed to greater punctuality of intra-bus operation, while the city’s efforts to take swift actions against illegal operations has encouraged drivers to comply with the regulations.
+ REPLICABILITY AND SCALABILITY
Policy Sharing Cases
1. (Mecca, Saudi Arabia) Intelligent Transportation System Master Plan Establishment
- Project Period: June 2015 to December, 2015
- Project cost: USD 140,166
2. (Metro Manila, Philippines) Intelligent Transportation System Establishment Consulting
- Project Period: November 2015
- Project Cost: USD 250,000
- Role of SMG: Matching related institutions and companies having related experiences and G2G cooperation with Department of Transportation and Communications of Philippines
3. (Accra, Ghana) Urban Transportation System Master Plan Establishment
- Project Period: December 2014 to December 2016
- Project Cost: USD 1,371,879
- Role of SMG: Providing consultation on establishing transportation plan with the SMG public transportation model
4. (Bandung, Indonesia) Transportation Infrastructure Development Support Policy Consultation
- Project Period: June 2016
- Project Cost: USD 214,630
- Role of SMG: Co-proposal of KSP with Bandung, G2G cooperation with related institutions for project selection, arranging local contact points, providing consultation
5. (Colombia) Public Transportation-oriented Urban Development and Sustainable Transportation System Establishment Consulting
- Project Period: July 2016 to June 2017
- Project Cost: USD 262,812
- Role of SMG: Providing information materials on urban transportation of SMG and consultation on localisation process
+ BUDGET AMOUNT
Budget: Approximately KRW 200 billion
As the city was the first local government in the nation to develop the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), the project commenced in 1998 was entirely financed by the municipal budget, without any support from the central government. However, the benefits of the system soon became acknowledged by other local governments, and the central government came to recognise the need for further support. Therefore, some of the city’s additional projects are now subsidised by the state on a 50-50 basis.