Instant traffic updates extended to public transport | Daily News


Google Transit begins with WP

Instant traffic updates extended to public transport

The initial launch of the Google Transit instant traffic update service for travellers and commuters in Sri Lanka was held yesterday with Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranathunga hailing it as “a revolutionary transformation in the country’s transport system”.

Google Transit was inaugurated by the Minister yesterday to mark the 25th anniversary of the National Transport Commission (NTC).

At present Google has made its live traffic updates available for private transport in Sri Lanka providing a convenient information back-up for travellers and commuters to find routes with less traffic. Currently, Google does not possess public transport data and the feature does not work on the internet application at present.

In preparation for yesterday’s launch, public transport data has now been uploaded to Google as a preliminary to activate the Google Transit feature for the benefit of all Sri Lankan travellers in the near future.

Google will monitor this data and will release the supported application on the internet shortly.

Initially, Google users will be able to access public transport directions in the Western Province only through Google Transit.

This data can be viewed through the Google Maps mobile application that can be downloaded on to smartphones. If users are on a mobile device, Google Transit will automatically use the phone’s current location to find the best way to direct the user to her/his destination. Google Transit adds public transport information to Google Maps, allowing people to plan trips using the train, private buses handled by Western Province Passenger Transport Authority (WPTA) and, inter-provincial long-distance buses handled by the NTC in the Western Province. Travel data can be obtained through their home, office or mobile device connections.

The facility would initially cover 785 routes including 369 railway routes, 207 WPTA routes and 209 NTC routes and some 11,000 bus stops and railway stations.

Google Transit will contain information on destination , the time to reach the destination, the transport mode available to reach the destination, bus stops and stations and walking areas.

Furthermore, when the buses are equipped with the GPS facility, travellers will be find out the exact place and time of the bus or train.

Transport Minister Ranathunga, addressing the gathering at the launch ceremony, said the NTC’s main task should be the regulation of the public transport industry and not merely issuing bus permits. “If enforcement agencies issue permits as well, they can not engage in regulating the industry properly. There should be several institutions for issuing bus permits. We all know about the corruption and malpractices that occur in this place. There are instances when permits are issued for Rs.10 million. However, passengers have not benefited from these, but it is various other people who benefit from this corruption. Even if this government does not exist much longer, we hope to do the necessary changes to the sector for the benefit of the people. “After I took over this Ministry, many people came to me to get bus permits. I have stopped this practice. We had a very satisfactory and reputed public transport system in the past. But now people have diverted away from using public transport. If we have improved public transport including both the SLTB and the private bus industry, people will be attracted to use them.

That is why we have taken measures to import 2000 luxury buses for the SLTB,” he added.

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