Collaboration of ITU with Lahore Transport Company
Over half a million citizens of Lahore use public transport daily to commute to and from their workplaces etc across the 1028 bus stops available in Lahore. This great density of commuters faces various problems; persistent uncertainty and the wastage of time are common as buses are often late, routes are arbitrarily altered, and there is no systematic way to access all the routes of the various public transport options along with their respective timings. Looking to maximize ease and efficiency in the process commuting for citizens through a technological intervention, ITU’s Center for Technology and Governance has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lahore Transport Company for a project named ‘Lahore in Transit’.
The main idea behind this project is to increase the reach of urban transport, and also help commuters save valuable time and energy by giving them access to reliable information about the transport system so they can plan their optimal routes. This exciting project is scheduled to be implemented in three phases. In the first phase, all the geographic data on local transport in Lahore will be collected, digitized and uploaded on Google Transit, making Lahore the first city in Pakistan to become accessible through Google Transit. Citizens can then avail the facility of entering their current location and intended destination on Google Maps and accessing the most relevant intra-city public transport routes immediately- including Metro Bus routes. In the second phase of the project, LTC’s existing SMS service (which is currently a static service that only informs inquirers about routes) will be optimized and become ‘smart’ through the use of smart algorithms, which would enable commuters to plan their journey through a simple SMS. An SMS sent by the commuter with the names of the beginning and endpoint of her journey will be answered with information of all the optimal routes between these two points- both in terms of least distance as well as least time. Alongside, a dedicated smartphone application will also be developed for this purpose. The final phase of the project will oversee the designing and prototype development of low cost Smart Boards which will display the expected time of arrival of the next bus, to be installed at every bus stop at Lahore. This will reduce uncertainty and increase reliability.
Not only will this project empower commuters and place Lahore on the list of cities which use digital technology to facilitate its citizens, but it will also take a step towards nurturing the spirit of community activism and volunteerism among the youth as CTG will be using the help of student volunteers in the data collection and entry stages of the project.
Lahore in Transit is an excellent example of a project which highlights the fruitful cooperation between public institutions and academia. Dr. Umar Saif, the Vice Chancellor of ITU, and Mr. Khawaja Haider Latif, the CEO of Lahore Transport Company signed the MoU for this project on 21st May. The point person on behalf of CTG for this project is Mr. Saad Zulqernain, and the point person on part of LTC is Mr. Azhar Hanif.