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DTC plan GPS systems to discipline errant drivers

2 Dec 2002, The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has plans to install satellite receivers in its fleet to discipline bus drivers and get them to ply as per the time table. The receivers, part of a global positioning system (GPS), would transmit signals to a satellite that would in turn relay information to a central control room. This would enable the control room to keep a minute-by-minute account of the positions of the buses on a digital map of the city and also detect if a driver is over speeding, skipping a stop or going off route.

As of now, these receivers have been installed in 80 buses running on Mudrika and outer Mudrika routes. By March next year, another 120 buses would get the same. The GPS, a satellite-based locating and navigating utility, will determine the precise location of a bus by tracking signals from the satellite. The two-way communication system will enable bus drivers to send messages as well. For instance, if a bus meets with an accident, gets stuck in a jam or has a leak in the CNG cylinder, the driver can convey the message to the control room.

The driver would have a small screen on which messages from the control room would be flashed. The driver may be asked to change the route or even jump ahead of other buses plying on the same route. Delhi State transport minister Ajay Maken said: ‘‘We planned this a couple of years ago to help streamline the system. We had the option of bringing in inspectors to keep a tab on the buses. But we realised that GPS would be a more viable system and cheaper too.’’

He said by the next financial year, the entire fleet of 3,200 buses would get these satellites receivers. The exercise is going to cost between Rs 3 crore and Rs 4 crore. ‘‘We are running a pilot project as it takes quite some time to put together a digitised map of the city, showing all the routes,’’ said he.
DTC chairman A J S Sahni said: ‘‘The results of the pilot study are very good. We have had instances when our drivers have informed us in case of a breakdown.’’

When the project was started, the defence ministry objected as it did not allow remote sensing devices in Delhi. Maken said special permission had to be sought in this case. Once the system is fully in place, DTC plans to lease it out to other agencies, both private and government. ‘‘Delhi Municipal Corporation (MCD) can keep a tab on its garbage trucks. The Jal Board can find out the movements of its water tankers and the Delhi Fire Service can monitor its fire engines,’’ said Maken.

Besides, even private taxis can make use of the system to quickly dispatch a vehicle closest to the place from where a call is placed.