Planning of MRTS for metro cities on GIS platform

Planning of MRTS for metro cities on GIS platform


Vimal Gahlot
Research Scholar, Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur, India
[email protected]

Professor of Civil Engineering, Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur, India
[email protected]

S. S. Jain
Professor of Civil Engineering & Associated Faculty, Centre for Transportation Systems (CTRANS), Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India
[email protected]

Professor of Civil Engineering & Associated Faculty, Centre for Transportation Systems (CTRANS), Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India
[email protected]

In today’s highly dynamic and complex world, information has become a critical resource for effective and efficient management of different organisations. Information technology in its various forms is enabling organisation to churn raw data into meaningful information for effective decision making.

In this era of information technology GIS has emerged as a versatile tool. GIS is a specific integrated system of hardware, software and procedure designed to support capture, management, manipulation, analysis and display of spatially referenced data for solving complex planning and management problems. It has been employed for integration of spatial and non-spatial data. It can be applied to various services that are dependent on network like water supply, power supply, sewage, etc. So it could be of great help for transportation, engineering and planning also.

This paper is intended to illustrate applications of GIS in Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) Design, and introduce a case study of Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan State in India. The study relied on GIS to identify the Bus Rapid Transit Corridors in the study area.

A country’s transportation system represents development of the country. But at the same time, highly developed countries are facing higher problems of transportation management and spending lots of money and effort for solving those problems. Growing traffic congestion, the need to preserve the environment and the problems of road safety are the main reasons for many cities worldwide to consider new initiatives in public transit systems.

The complexities of building and operating the transport system efficiency and safely have out-stripped the ability of past experience and professional judgment alone to provide solutions. If a country is to satisfy the transport infrastructure requirement in consonance to its developmental pace, decisions must be based on a more reliable, updated, relevant, easily accessible and affordable information. Better information does not guarantee better decision making capability but its absence surely precludes it. The application of GIS to a diverse range of problems in transportation engineering is now well established.

Because of the varying nature of GIS and the rapid growth of associated disciplines, many definitions of this technology exist. Burrough has defined GIS as an organised collection of computer hardware, software, geographic data and personnel designed to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyse and display all forms of geographically referenced information. It is a useful definition because it addresses functionality as well as components.

GIS and Transportation Planning
The four major components of a GIS, encoding, management, analysis and reporting, have specific considerations for transportation:

  • Encoding: This component deals with issues concerning the representation of a transport system and its spatial components. To be of use in a GIS, a transport network must be correctly encoded, implying a functional topology composed of nodes and links. Other elements relevant to transportation, namely qualitative and quantitative data, must also be encoded and associated with their respective spatial elements. For instance, an encoded road segment can have data related to its width, number of lanes, direction, peak hour traffic, etc.
  • Management: The encoded information often is stored in a database and can be organised along spatial (by region, country, census units, etc.), thematic (for highway, transit, railway, terminals, etc.) or temporal (by year, month, week, etc.) considerations. It is important to design a GIS database that organises a large amount of heterogeneous data in an integrated and seamless environment such that the data can be easily accessed to support various transportation application needs.
  • Analysis: This component includes the wide array of tools and methodologies available for transport issues. They can range from a simple query over an element of a transport system (i.e. what is the peak hour traffic of a road segment?) to a complex model investigating the relationships between its elements (if a new road segment was added, what would be the impacts on traffic and future land use developments?).
  • Reporting: A GIS would not be complete without all its visualisation and data reporting capabilities for both spatial and non-spatial data. This component is particularly important as it offers interactive tools to convey complex information in a map format. A GIS thus becomes a useful tool to inform people who otherwise may not be able to visualise the hidden patterns and relationships embedded in the datasets (potential relationships among traffic accidents, highway geometry, pavement condition, and terrain). (Fig 1)

Information in a GIS is often stored and represented as layers, which are a set of geographical features linked with their attributes. On the above figure a transport system is represented as three layers related to land use, flows (spatial interactions) and the network. Each has its own features and related data.

Figure 1: Geographic Information Systems and Transportation Planning
Applications of GIS in urban transportation system
A variety of applications of GIS has been recognised in urban transportation planning arena and management have been reported. Some of these applications include:

  • Transportation master plans,
  • Site plans,
  • Multimodal transportation planning (e.g., travel demand forecasting),
  • Public participation,
  • Scenario development/visioning,
  • Sustainable development,
  • Executive information systems,
  • Web-based user information systems,
  • Asset management systems including infrastructure maintenance management and safety management (including accident analysis),
  • Transportation system control and management (TSC-TSM),
  • Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) applications (e.g. road pricing),
  • Corridor preservation/right of way,
  • Construction management,
  • Hazardous cargo or overweight/oversize vehicles permit routing and
  • Environmental impacts.

It is recognised that GIS tools are versatile, flexible and reliable and therefore can be used for a range of activities. GIS software are now available that can combine tools for travel demand modelling with unique capabilities for digital mapping, geographic database management, presentation of graphics, application of sophisticated transportation, operations research and statistical models (Caliper Corporation, 2004).

Development of MRTS for metro cities
Transportation demands in growing urban areas of developing countries continue to increase rapidly as a result of rapid urbanisation, economic-population growth and changes in travel patterns. In the era of sustainable development and limited space available in metro cities, transport planners need to provide mass rapid transit system, which can ensure safe and clean mobility to all citizens.

India is presently undergoing rapid urbanisation, implying major investments in road and transit systems. Therefore, wise investment decisions require true forecasts of future urban travel demand in India’s growing metro cities. And, a more rational approach to identify a high ridership based mass transit corridor is needed. For developing mass rapid transit corridor for any city, it is necessary to first understand the typical land-use pattern (Figure 3) and population – employment distribution in the city, and how they affect the travel pattern of that city.

Generally, in any city the main commercial, business and office activities are concentrated at a single area called the central business district (CBD). All residential and other areas then develop outside the CBD fringe and toward the outskirts of the city. The details of the study area are given in next paragraph.

Study Area
Jaipur is one of the major tourist cities of India with main attractions like Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort and Birla Mandir. The city is developed as an international tourist centre and the commercial capital of Rajasthan over the years. It had a population of 2.3 million in 2001. Figure2 shows the vehicle growth trend of Jaipur city.

Figure 2: Vehicular Growth
The city is located in the Aravali hills at an altitude of about 430m above M.S.L., Jaipur lies on latitude 26˚55′ north and 75˚50′ east. The climate is dry with an annual rainfall of 620mm. The city follows a grid plan, with rectangular blocks created by broad intersecting avenues and streets.

Figure 3: Land Use Map, Jaipur
Development of GIS based Mass Rapid Transit Demand Model
The travel demand model has been developed from the primary traffic surveys to identify the suitable corridors for MRTS for the study area. Model has been formulated to achieve the following tasks:

  • Development of GIS based Model from primary and secondary data collected from the surveys.
  • Identification of suitable MRTS corridor.
  • Updating of base year model from primary sources and its validation.
  • Travel demand and ridership forecasting for the horizon year 2030.

The Mass Rapid Transit Demand Model is developed to forecast the travel patterns and modal shares under different land-use and transport scenarios in the study area. The projections from the model are used to derive the travel demand along the corridors of major flow in city and related user benefits. The main advantage of GIS that is presents unique spatial distribution of travel demand for better understanding of the flow patterns along the major roads. The methodology used for development of model is given below, Figure 4.

GIS database management for the study
The whole data is maintained in three layers as road network layer, traffic analysis zone (TAZ) layer and public transport layer. The whole study area has been divided into TAZ to digitise the study area on GIS platform. The socioeconomic spatial data resides in a TAZ layer. Road network contains the city road network detail and the public transport layer, have details of public transit route prevailing in the city.

Figure 4: Methodology for Ridership forecasting
Identification of MRTS alignment options
As explained in the above section the four stage travel demand forecasting is performed in GIS environment. Trip generation is first stage to predict the number of tips generated from the whole city. The trip generation- attraction pattern in the city is shown in Figure 5. The figure shows maximum concentration of trips is in CBD area. The trips generated are the distributed to whole study area based on the impedance as travel time, travel cost or distance. The existing mode share scenario is estimated in mode split stage. Then finally, mode wise trips are allocated on highway and transit network to estimate passenger flow along the major roads in the city, Figure 6.

Alignment options for the mass rapid transit system were identified based on the travel demand pattern, major activity centres, and the residential neighbourhoods in the study area. In Fig: 4, these options were evaluated using the demand model. Data collected from the city and regional planning agencies in this respect was utilised and growth patterns of the city were identified for their use in identifying the alternative options. The horizon year travel demand i.e., the mode-wise O-D matrices were derived from the base year trip end, distribution models and mode-choice models. The output of the horizon year (2030) model provided a glimpse of the future corridors of travel from which decision for most appropriate system was made. The corridor was selected based on the major passenger movement corridors, which gave the high ridership. Figure 7 shows the flow lines (red colour) of high passenger flow value more than ten thousand passengers per hour per direction (pphpd). As per the capacity constrains Bus Rapid Transit is recommended mass transit technology for the city having moderate demand. The ideal alignment from ridership consideration is shown in figure 8.

Figure: 5 Distributions of Trips

Figure: 6 Vehicle Flow pattern

Figure: 7 Peak hour Transit Demand

Figure: 8 MRTS Corridor
The foregoing information and discussion suggests a number of ways that metro cities in developing countries can benefit from the application of GIS in mass transit planning. The Key benefits include:

  • Opportunities for the effective planning of mass rapid transit network designing and other related infrastructure.
  • Comprehensive urban transportation and land use planning at a low cost.
  • Due to the use of powerful graphical display and analysis tools, GIS can serve as an integral component of future executive information systems for cities and their transportation agencies.
  • Efficiency in obtaining approvals for different stakeholders for projects, thus cutting down the amount of time required for final project approval and ultimate implementation.
  • Enhanced decision-making through a wider availability of data, better understanding and development of various scenarios (e.g. infrastructure improvement strategies) to assist management in budget deliberations.


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