City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and Hong Kong Automotive Parts and Accessory Systems R&D Centre (APAS) have been granted HK$641,000 from the Innovation and Technology Commission to develop a minibus safety and passenger information services system.
In collaboration with two minibus operators, Chit Fai Motors Company Limited and Li Wai Chun Transportation Company Limited, the system will be installed on 12 green minibuses running in Kowloon and the New Territories as part of a pilot project. Designed as a solution to enhance road safety, it will provide passengers with detailed information on transport and daily life.
Dr Stephen Liao Shaoyi, Associate Professor from the Department of Information Systems at CityU, said: “Passengers are not always sure when to get off a minibus, but our system informs people of their exact whereabouts so they don’t need to interrupt the drivers while they are concentrating on the road.”
An LCD panel installed on the minibus broadcasts the latest information for “next stop” and “terminus”, as well as main landmarks nearby, such as buildings, shopping mall and public amenities. The technologies used by the system include Global Positioning System (GPS), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Geographic Information System (GIS), and Arrival Time Prediction (ATP).
The system transmits data related to the route back to the fleet monitoring centre, enabling minibus operators to track every minibus on the move, Dr Liao added. The system also provides an ad platform for delivering information relating to different districts along the routes, giving operators extra income.
Dr Liao also said the functions of the system will be extended. The fleet monitoring centre can predict the time minibuses will arrive at the terminus by analysing past and real-time data, and passengers can estimate their arrival time via mobile phone applications. This function is now undergoing initial trials.
Dr Yang Ying, CEO of APAS, is delighted to see the team’s technology applied to industry. “We are grateful to the minibus operators for their precious input during the development of this information system, making it a solution that suits the needs of the operators in the industry,” he said. “In addition, it is very significant that this locally developed IT system will benefit Hong Kong people, providing them with vital and relevant information.”
CityU’s Department of Information Systems conducted a survey after a three-month pilot test. Out of 200 passengers interviewed, 97% said they found the system acceptable and, of whom, two-thirds said the services were satisfactory. The most satisfactory services included journey and arrival information, breaking news and financial information. In addition, 73% of passengers would like to see the system installed over the long-term.