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Saturday , 30 September 2023

Area traffic control system Improving Traffic in the island city

Training: As part of the implementation, extensive training (theoretical as well as on-hand) was carried out for the users including the engineers and officers of MCGM and the Traffic Police personnel. On-the-job real-time training too was provided. As a result, the system is under use by these personnel, independent of the system providers.

Maintenance Monitoring: The system also has a module for monitoring the faults and the repairs. These are routinely used to evaluate the performance of the maintenance contractors.

Difficulties in Implementation

This was one of the most challenging jobs in the city which created over 68km of fully ducted network with inspection / maintenance chambers. The project used up around 100km of signal cables, 2,000 signal poles and 500 cantilever poles. This included unavoidable civil works which led to many problems. Ever since the implementation process of the project started, the delays also crept in – some of which were anticipated and some new. According to PRK Murthy, Chief, Transport and Communications Division, MMRDA, lack of lane discipline and the parking of vehicles on the left side of the roads were two significant problems.

Traffic: During the day time, no work is possible on Mumbai streets due to the high traffic movement through the saturated network. Based on the discussions between MCGM and the Traffic Police, it was decided that the only feasible time to work on the streets is the night time, that too starting after 10 pm.

Implementing the Mumbai ATC project is a good example of team work where all agencies involved worked to achieve the goal. This project is a stepping stone for Intelligent Transportation Systems in Mumbai. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai will continue to accept the challenge of implementing the latest technological innovations which will help in providing better services to the citizens of Mumbai. — Mahesh M Thakur, Executive Engineer (ATC)

This was working fine in the areas of commercial nature, but brought stiff resistance due to the noise of the work in the residential areas. The MCGM stepped in and the Addl. Municipal Commissioner wrote personal letters to all residential societies about the work and requested them to co-operate with the Contractors. Also, MCGM officers were present through the night at the work site to ensure that the work did not get stopped. Despite all good efforts, there has been opposition where the Contractor was forced to work only for a small period of time in order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere.

Utilities: As part of the contract, a fully ducted network using highly durable double walled corrugated HDPE pipes was to be installed under the footpaths and at places where road crossings were required. This proved to be a major challenge as the footpaths were full of utilities laid in a haphazard manner. In the absence of any documented utility information, the only way was to carefully proceed to open up the area and lay the new ducts. The density and diversity of the utilities needed extreme care on the part of the contractor and supervising team to select the path of the new ducted network. This was a time consuming exercise, but was unavoidable.

The project got started in 1995. It took considerable time to finalise the specifications and bid documents. This is one of the most complex initiatives involving the electronic & communication system, vehicle sensors, hardware and the associated civil work. The project is a silent revolution brought in to improve Mumbai’s traffic conditions. It has definitely achieved the desired project development objectives. — PRK Murthy, Chief, Transport Department, MMRDA

Loss of Loop Detectors: Initially, the project had inductive loop detectors that were embedded in the road surface. Within one month of installation, about 30% loops were damaged by various other agencies carrying out works on Mumbai’s streets. The attempts to reduce these damages proved futile and the overhead detectors using video technology were brought in.

Multiple agencies involvement: Many agencies were involved in the implementation. This included the implementing agency MCGM, the end user Traffic Police, the nodal agency of MMRDA, several utility companies and other infrastructure developers (mono rail, metro etc.). The co-ordination of all these agencies posed many challenges.

Special VVIP movements when work would be stalled before or on the days of the movements, Mumbai monsoon when MCGM does not allow work from the end of May to the end of September and exodus of labour force as the ATC work required work to be carried out at night with frequent stoppages also were a few other challenges.

Benefits of implementation

The implementation of the ATC system has brought some benefits to the road users. Pell Frischmann Consultants conducted detailed studies and carried out analysis including the modelling of before and after scenarios, actual traffic counts and speed & delay studies to determine the effectiveness of the system. The major findings are as below:

The implementation of the system has realised a significant reduction in the cycle time in majority of the regions – it reduced from 18 sec to 12 sec, except in the area around Kemps corner which is one of the most complicated junctions. Speed and Delay Studies revealed de-congestion of some of the slowest moving sections like the Income-Tax Office (D Mulla Road Junction) and Churchgate areas. Further improvements in some of these areas could be achieved by enforcement of strict parking norms and lane discipline.

As per the World Bank estimates, the likely achievable savings in delay were estimated at around 660 Passenger Car Units-Hr/Hr. The studies revealed that the actual savings have been much high at around 1300 PCU-Hr/Hr for the peak hours. The annual savings translate to huge values, roughly estimated to about 1.8 million litres of fuel. Apart from this, the improvement in speeds in various regions is in the scale of 5%-10% in peak time and goes up to 30% in off-peak time.

Economic Internal rate of return (EIRR) on the project (without considering time savings) has worked out to about 63% compared to the previous situation. Analysis has revealed that even if the previous setup was optimised, an EIRR to the tune of 19% could have been seen in the city. There was skepticism on the possible success of the project, especially since the effectiveness of ATC systems is limited in over saturated conditions. But owing to the long cycle times being used in the city, the effect of optimisation could be clearly observed.

The implementation demonstrated that even in an environment as congested as Mumbai, real savings in travellers’ delay can be accomplished by the implementation of modern traffic control systems.  — Roy Sumner, Traffic consultant to the World Bank, Washington

Lessons Learnt

This was a tough learning experience for everyone involved in the implementation. In retrospect, the combining of so much civil work with a traffic signal system contract led to some problems during the implementation that would have been avoided with separate contracts. The calibration of each signal site is something that needed to be carefully done and the time taken for the same in Mumbai has been phenomenal due to its peculiar traffic conditions.

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