Digital Transformation of Transport Sector
Pawan Kumar Joshi
All over the world, the transport sector has seen phenomenal growth due to technological innovations, the increased purchasing power of citizens, and improvements in the road infrastructure. Like every country, India too has an elaborate Governance mechanism to control, regulate and manage the transport sector. The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways at the Central level, the respective State Transport Departments at the State levels and the Regional Transport Offices at the District/ Regional level are the key agencies and establishments – which are responsible for managing this sector through policy intervention, administrative control and enforcement of rules and regulations.
In recent years, these activities have been modernized with comprehensive adoption of ICT technology and change in the business processes with the ultimate objective of (a) ensuring better governance, (b) facilitating efficient services to the citizen, and (c) bringing efficiency and transparency to the system. ICT-led innovations and development in the Indian Transport Sector with a wide range of government initiatives and schemes have helped to improve the public transportation services in the country.
eTransport Mission Mode Project is an important IT initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to modernize the management and operations of the Transport Sector. It is a comprehensive digital platform created with technical support from National Informatics Centre (NIC), Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) facilitating all transport-related services through a centralized, web-based system operational across the country. It has successfully transformed the service delivery mechanism of various transport-related activities (vehicle registration, driving license, enforcement, taxation, permit, fitness, etc.) and has also empowered multiple stakeholders by ensuring improved delivery of services.
Some of the key applications developed and implemented under this project include Vahan (for vehicle registration), Sarathi (for driving license), mParivahan (mobile app), e-Challan (enforcement solution), PUCC (pollution compliance system).
Vahan and Sarathi have extended their reach to 1300+ RTOs, 30,000+ Dealer points, across 33 States/ Union Territories, covering their diverse systems and processes under a unified, common system. More than 100 online, citizen/trade services are operational and facilitate online service requests, document upload, ePayment, appointments, etc. Many of them are completely contact-less eliminating the need for visiting RTO by citizens. On average, 60,000 vehicles are registered, 80,000 licenses issued, 25 Million SMS/OTP generated, 100,000 online applications, and 100,000 online appointments are booked daily.
After the core activity of process automation at the RTOs and other transport establishments has been achieved through the adoption of basic digital technology, the emphasis has now moved to citizens and other stakeholders in the sector. Applications and Services are being offered through online, contactless manner to ensure ease in getting services. Stakeholders in the ecosystem are connected through sharing of data and integration of services.
Online Check Post Application provides a convenient option for payment of inter-state entry tax without any barriers.Several mobile-based initiatives have also been launched under the eTransport project. e-Challan is a comprehensive Traffic Ticketing Solution that has been adopted by Transport Enforcement Officers and Traffic Police in 26 States. The solution equips the traffic police officers with hand-held devices running e-Challan app for easy and quicker issuance of challans and accepting ePayments. The system is also linked with speed detection cameras which allow the issuance of traffic violation notices without human intervention.
PUCC is a web-enabled application used by around 30,000 Pollution Checking Centres across 24 states for certifying vehicular emission compliance (Pollution Under Control Certificates) as per standards and norms set by the Motor Vehicle Act/ Rule. It facilitates real-time integration of the pollution status with various allied systems and stakeholders.
For citizens, a handy mobile app to cover various transport-related services and information has been developed and launched under the eTransport Project. mParivahan is a widely popular app for the citizens that allow multiple services and tools related to Transport Sector, including Virtual Driving License and Vehicle Registration Certificate, etc. to be available through a common platform.
Another mobile app – mVahan – has been launched to facilitate departmental officers to carry out various functionalities, starting with vehicle fitness and inspection conveniently and efficiently.
Manufacturer-specific solutions include Homologation application for Automobile and Component Manufacturers, to ensure smooth execution of Type Approval of vehicles , Speed Limiting Device (SLD) application for approval and fitment of speed limiting devices in transport vehicles; CNG Maker application for fitment of genuine CNG Kit in vehicles.
There are other recent initiatives like IRAD (Integrated Road Accident Database) for quick and accurate collection and processing of accident data from the field level. The World Bank-funded project aims at compiling detailed accident parameters for better accident management and analysis and engages all stakeholders on a single platform.
VLTEAS (Vehicle Location Tracking and Emergency Alerts System) with GPS enabled tracking device fitted in public service vehicles aims to enhance Road and Passenger safety. Under the eTransport project, the VLT Device fitment process, as well as the tracking and monitoring through Command & Control System are facilitated to different states in India.
Any technology-led initiative or scheme is aimed at ensuring efficient delivery of services to the citizens. The computerization of various operations has transformed the traditional cumbersome processes, thereby ensuring increased transparency, ease of use, and readily available online services.The need for citizens and transporters to visit RTOs has been significantly reduced with the widespread adoption of the digital payments system, web-based service requests, online document upload, document verification, online appointment, etc. Transport Officials and Staff across the country now have the benefit of working with a modern, integrated system which has given a boost to their productivity. These IT-led initiatives have also contributed to the revenue of the states by provisioning new revenue streams (for example Fancy Number Auction) and reduction of leakages (through ePayment etc.). Compliance with rules and acts has increased significantly due to the adoption of applications like e-Challan Traffic Enforcement Solution, Integrated Pollution Control System, Vehicle Tracking System, etc. The top authorities comprising the Ministry, State Transport Departments are making use of the data-driven dashboards which will help them make informed decisions and thereby formulating better policies. With multiple stakeholders, the transport ecosystem has emerged as a Public Digital Platform where the exchange of data and services has grown tremendously, thus creating a constructive synergy.
(The author is a scientist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org-PIB)