Connected Buses, the perfect match for growing Smart Cities

Published by Telefónica IoT Team Smart Mobility, Smart Cities

One of the biggest challenges in modern megacities is moving people around effectively and getting commuters to the office on time and home from work fast and efficiently.

To offer an example, when your city is a huge megalopolis like São Paulo with over 19 million inhabitants and 4.2 million cars, traffic problems get so bad that it is no wonder it is home of the biggest amount of privately owned helicopters (almost 500), being in fact the second biggest helicopter fleet in the world.

Since helipads are not fit for every pocket, standard means of communication have to be as effective as can be. So São Paulo city transport officials have designed the most sophisticated bus system in the world operating 26,000 buses in close to 2,000 routes covering over 160 kilometres of dedicated lanes. Connected communications for these buses are a real must.

These fast moving buses are called Bus Rapid System or BRT and were developed in Brazil in the 70s. These systems aim to provide commuter transportation with train like speeds, train like commuter figures and high standards of comfort and service at a comparable price without the overhead cost of light railway infrastructure.

How do they achieve such a feat? BRT cities have dedicated bus lanes – ‘corredores de ȏnibus’ in Portuguese – that allow buses to move more than three million passengers per day in the case of São Paulo at average speeds of more than 20 kph.

New vehicles offer an additional advantage of being eco-friendly – 95% emissions free – making environmental impact another reason to prefer riding on a bus than commuting with your own vehicle. Buses going green can have an impact of avoiding 270 tons of carbon emissions per year.

How has a connected world brought new challenges – and also new solutions and services – to the doorstep of BRT systems in Smart Cities? For the Transport authorities connected buses allow supervisors to check if the bus is on schedule with its programmed route. Supervisors can pack connected buses closer to allow users to find the system appealing besides knowing they will commute fast. The key ‘selling’ point for commuters is knowing when to expect the next bus and to receive high quality standards while travelling aboard.

Some key advantages of connected buses can be:

  • High speed wireless internet Access for all passengers
  • Efficient operation of buses and reduced commuting time thanks to dedicated lanes, buses flow faster than cars
  • Real-time information for passengers of the location of the closest bus, available routes, wait time and more either at bus shelter touchscreen or through apps that display information that connected buses relay from time to time about where they are
  • Real-time information sent by buses also helps fleet managers to check and ensure the service is up to standards, which buses travel at an adequate capacity, and address problems or situations in real time.
  • Users receive real time arrival and connection information helping them make an informed choice about how much it will take to change to another bus line at a connecting stop
  • Vehicle Location tracking systems on a connected bus also track vehicle mileage and health
  • Driver reputation can be polled on a trip by trip basis to check that connected bus drivers are offering a satisfactory service and doing their job well
  • Bus repairs are prevented thanks to fleet management software that alerts on possible problems buses might have and recommend certain preventive maintenance
Telefónica IoT Team