Have you ever imagined that tapping your cell phone screen could let you see where that taxi you booked is or that you could know how long you will have to wait for the next bus by looking at an electronic board?
Those scenarios will gradually become reality, as transport authorities vowed to develop smart traffic technologies to boost green and highly efficient transportation.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Transport announced a national plan for the transportation sector in 2012-20, aiming to promote the development of China's intelligent transport system, known as ITS.
The government believes the plan will provide solutions to the increasing urban traffic congestion issues as well as nurture a new economic growth engine.
The government will encourage more private investment in the field, Hong Xiaofeng, Deputy Director of the Science and Technology Department under the Ministry of Transport, said at the opening ceremony of the third ITS conference in Beijing on Tuesday.
"Some forecasts said that the number of vehicles in China will exceed 200 million in 2020, which calls for a more intensive use of smart transport technologies to optimize the traffic network and achieve lower-carbon trips," Hong said.
Intelligent transport systems are advanced applications that provide traffic management services and enable users to be better informed and make safer and smarter choices.
Applications of the technology are now seen in the country in satellite-aided navigation, cameras for traffic surveillance, electronic toll collection (ETC), logistics management and emergency traffic command.
"People in cities benefit from ITS every day," said Wang Xiaojing, Chief Engineer at the Research Institute of Highways under the Ministry of Transport.
Wang said that road electronic signs, for example, show data collected with intelligent traffic technologies to help drivers.
"China now has 1 billion mobile phone users, so we hope that more ITS applications for smartphones will come up in the future," Wang said, adding that the applications can help users transfer between trains, buses and planes.
Another breakthrough is that the electronic toll collection systems on the highways in Shanghai and five neighboring provinces in the Yangtze River Delta region will be integrated on Wednesday, which will enable drivers with ETC devices in those regions to pay tolls without stopping on highways.
Li Zheliang, Deputy Director of the Road Network Monitoring Center under the Shanghai Road Administration, said that the city now has more than 220,000 vehicles that use the ETC service, and that about 80,000 cars have been equipped with the device annually since 2009.
And in cities like Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, and Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, electronic boards have already been set up to show when the buses will arrive.
(China Daily August 1, 2012)