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iBus Helps Commuters Practice Social Distancing in Taiwan

Image credit: kcg.gov.tw

In a world where social distancing has become part of daily life, it certainly can be disturbing to board an overcrowded bus. The government of Kaohsiung, the island’s biggest industrial centre, has devised an ingenious way of using technology to solve such a predicament. It’s not a first in the world but still, its application is useful. They placed a crowding level feature on the iBus app.

To provide the public with more diverse and useful bus information, Kaohsiung City has included a new feature to the Kaohsiung iBus app that allows passengers to check the level of crowding on buses. It’s the very first in Taiwan. In retrospect, this is ICT enabling better service for the masses.

To do this, they’ve set up a 4G network in all buses that transmit real-time data of the number of passengers on the bus detected by the ticket machine to the bus real-time information system. Consequently, the app shows the crowd level on the bus by a colour code, with green representing comfortable space between passengers and red indicating crowded space.

Passengers are able to see clearly how crowded it is on each of the buses servicing the routes they intend to take by checking the crowding level on the Kaohsiung iBus app before going out, which is helpful for their transportation planning.

Kaohsiung Transportation Bureau Director-General Chang Shu Chuan says that the inclusion of the crowding indicators in the Kaohsiung iBus app is inspired by public transportation systems in other countries for the purpose of epidemic prevention. The grading methods of crowding levels are designed with reference to Taiwan and other countries’ approaches, as well as taking social distancing, bus type and other factors into consideration.

For epidemic prevention, passengers can decide which bus they’d like to take by making use of this new feature. That way, they can keep social distance on the bus while having a better transportation experience. In addition, the information in Big Data transmitted in real-time cannot only be used in presenting crowding levels but also in analysing time intervals and routes in the future to adjust bus schedules and service standards based on the analysis. Overall, it provides for a better bus service that truly serves the needs of the passengers.

The Kaohsiung iBus app is developed by the Transportation Bureau based on the data of the real-time bus system, which was used up to 54 million times in 2021, indicating its popularity among passengers. The app includes main features such as:

  • Real-time Bus Information
  • Traffic Diversion Information for Bus
  • Handicap-accessible Bus Schedule
  • Route Planning

Public transportation services are also provided, including “YouBike2.0 Information,” “LRT Real-time Information,” “DRTS Taxi Service,” and other helpful features for information searching.

One of the key rationales for the merits of digital transformation is how it can change people’s lives for the better. The convenience given to people who board a bus that they know can accommodate them well is a classic example of this. Of course, it helps people prevent the spread of a deadly virus.

The good news is Taiwan has been aggressively pursuing digital technology to benefit its people. At the heart of it all is data. The ability to organise data and come up with an actionable solution is central to the benefit of digitalisation as the iBus app shows.

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