Frustrated with the traffic in Chengdu? You're not alone. Sloppy driving, bus fires, bus collisions have all been recent complaints of Chengdu residents. And that's just the start. For those who take taxis, if you're lucky enough to nab one within 30 minutes, unless it's the middle of the night, you're likely to be sitting in gridlock for ... well, longer than it would take to walk the distance, sometimes. City officials say Renmin Nan Lu will return to "normal" by the end of next month, but we're not holding our breath.
On the other hand, it appears that some help is coming our poor, stranded, sardine-like residents' way in the form of several technological improvements to the bus system.
With the official launch of the Chengdu Bus Dispatch and Surveillance Center last Thursday, the 5,000 buses in operation in Chengdu are now under constant real-time electronic surveillance, Sichuan Online reports.
In addition to this safety measure, Chengdu's Public Transportation Authority has made several other enhancements to the bus system, including a text-messaging route-check system and electronic signboards at 500 stops.
The new surveillance system utilizes "smart" GPS technology to monitor the buses' speed, spacing, and passengers' alighting and disembarking. If any irregularities are detected, the bus driver will be notified. The system covers the entire area within the Second Ring Road.
Currently, only a handful of stops are equipped with signboards that notify passengers of the current time and date as well as the forecasted time of the next bus's arrival. These will be upgraded to also include route-change information, and by year's end, 500 of the city's stops will feature such signboards. In the future, all stops will be outfitted with a hidden camera feeding to the dispatch center.
Additionally, a new service has been launched to allow passengers to check bus routes via SMS. When a passenger sends the letters "GJ" to 10628106, the system will automatically reply with a menu that enables users to check all the stops on a particular bus line, possible routes between two stops, and the location of bus-pass recharging stations. The service is currently only in Chinese and costs 3 jiao per use or 1.2 yuan per month with unlimited usage.
Finally, the Palmcity website already provides real-time traffic information for several cities in China, including Chengdu, and will launch a program to show available parking spaces within the city, a spokesperson for the company told the China Daily.