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Coming soon: A GPS system to monitor Mumbai's buses, taxis and autos

The state Information Technology department will submit a report of suggestions to improve safety in public transport, to the Transport department

Every bus, taxi and auto rickshaw on the road will soon be under the watchful eye of authorities. This is what the state government is planning as an enhanced safety measure following the brutal Delhi gang rape of December 2012.

The government is planning to create a holistic central monitoring system to track the movement of buses, autos and taxis, with the help of a GPS-like system. File pic and Thinkstock
The government is planning to create a holistic central monitoring system to track the movement of buses, autos and taxis, with the help of a GPS-like system. File pic and Thinkstock

There have already been a series of meetings, and a report on the measures to be taken shall be submitted to the state government soon. These steps are being taken after the Central government issued directives, asking states to improve safety in public transport in the country.

“We are acting upon instructions received from the Government of India. A report will soon be prepared on 6-7 different tentative suggestions made to us,” said a senior government official.

This report is likely to be prepared by the Information Technology department, and shall then be submitted to the Transport department. Officials said that they would mainly look at having a GPS-like system installed in buses operated by the BEST and MSRTC, black-and-yellow taxis and auto rickshaws.

Senior officials from the state government said that conditions have already been laid down stating that every new taxi and auto rickshaw owner needs to agree to install GPS/GPRS online system or an RFID chip while getting their permits. The current operating vehicles, when they go to the RTOs to get their annual fitness certificate, will not be issued one if they do not install the RFID or GPS system.

In this way, authorities are making sure owners start installing the devices in their vehicles. With this system, authorities can easily keep tabs on every vehicle plying on road in a central control room similar to the ones existing for radio cabs like MERU, Tab Cab and others operating in Mumbai. As per plans, all public transport vehicles will be monitored on a real-time basis, which will display the precise location of the vehicle, speed at which it is travelling and other such details.

“As and when the government decides to give a go-ahead, this system can be implemented. The report is expected to be ready within six months,” said Shailesh Kumar Sharma, principal secretary (transport). Various transport bodies and unions also met on this issue recently.

Officials added that details like the name of the driver, his photo, whether he is the driver or the permit holder, etc would be printed on a badge displayed in the vehicle. Helpline numbers of the RTO, Traffic police, and the women’s helpline would also be printed on it.

Commuters can send a message or call those numbers in case of emergencies, and with the help of GPS, the location of the vehicle can be determined to ensure the passenger gets the help he/she requires. Government officials claim that in the long run, this system needs to be in place inside public transport vehicles. In case this is not followed, fines can also be levied.

Presently, CCTVs cameras are present inside 700-odd BEST buses, Metro and Monorail trains. These, too, would be integrated into the central monitoring system, once it materialises. The funding for this project would be secured from the central Nirbhaya fund that was allocated to fortify security measures for women in the country.

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