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A REAL TIME TRANSPORT INFORMATION SYSTEM FOR PUBLIC BUS TRANSPORT SERVICE IN NIGERIA

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1              Background to the Study

 

Transport is the movement of people, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles and operations. Transport is important because it enables trade between persons, which is essential for the development of civilizations (Ruth et al., 2010). Transport plays an important part in economic growth and globalization, but most types cause air pollution and use large amounts of land. While it is heavily subsidized by governments, good planning of transport is essential to make traffic flow and restrain urban sprawl (Padmanaban et al., 2010; Stopford, 1997). Transport planning allows for high utilization and less impact regarding new infrastructure. Using models of transport forecasting, planners are able to predict future transport patterns. Passenger transport may be public, where operators provide scheduled services, or private (Anna, 2014).

 

Public transport is a shared passenger transport service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, carpooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement. Public transport modes include city buses, trolleybuses, trams (or light rail) and passenger trains, rapid transit metro/subways/undergrounds etc) and ferries (Anna, 2014). Public transport between cities is dominated by airlines, coaches, and intercity rail. High-speed rail networks are being developed in many parts of the world. Most public transport runs to a scheduled timetable with the most frequent services running to a headway. Shared taxis offer on-demand services in many parts of the world and some services will wait until the vehicle is full before it starts. Paratransit is sometimes used in areas of low-demand and for people who need a door-to-door service (Sheng-hai et al., 2011).

 

A real-time system is one that must process information and produce a response within a specified time, else risk severe consequences, including failure (Wei, et al., 2010; Sheng-hai et al., 2011). Promoting the use of public transportation and intelligent transport systems, as well as improving transit accessibility for all citizens, may help in decreasing traffic congestion and air pollution in urban areas (Lino, 2001; Giannopoulos, 2004; Francesco et al., 2011; Sheng-hai et al., 2011). In general, poor information to customers is one of the main issues in public transportation services, which is an important reason for allocating substantial efforts to implement a powerful, easy to use and accessible information system.

 

An information system is an integrated set of components for collecting, storing, and processing data as well as deliver information, knowledge, and digital products (Vladimir, 2016). Business firms and other organizations rely on information systems to carry out and manage their operations, interact with their customers and suppliers, as well as compete in the marketplace. For instance, corporations use information systems to reach their potential customers with targeted messages over the Web, to process financial accounts, and to manage their human resources. Governments deploy information systems to provide services cost-effectively to citizens (Irv, 2009; Sheng-hai et al., 2011).Digital goods, such as electronic books and software, and online services, such as auctions and social networking, are delivered with information systems. Individuals rely on information systems such as the internet for socializing, studying, shopping, banking, and entertainment (Kenneth and Jane, 2011).

 

The global penetration of the Internet and the Web has enabled access to information and other resources and facilitated the forming of relationships among people and organizations on an unprecedented scale. The progress of electronic commerce over the internet has resulted in a dramatic growth in digital interpersonal communications (via e-mail and social networks), distribution of products (software, music, e-books, and movies), and business transactions (buying, selling, and advertising on the Web). With the emergence of smart phones, tablets, and other computer-based mobile devices, all of which are connected by wireless communication networks, information systems have been extended to support mobility as the natural human condition (Anna, 2014; Gytis and Francesco, 2009; Irma and Dorothy, 2008).

 

1.2              Statement of the Problem

 

One of the problems road user’s encounter is finding the right transportation at the right time which is a universal problem. Transportation of goods and people is central to economic and human development and lack of safe and reliable transport information can have significant implications. Some of the problems that have arose from unreliable transport information while using public buses in Nigeria include journey delays due to insufficient road information, misguided commuters, and safety issues. For example: unfortunately, in the past, hoodlums have taken advantage of foreigners who do not have adequate information of their destination, using that as an opportunity to dupe or harm them in process of asking for direction.

1.3              Objective of the Study

 

The main objective of this study is to design a Real-Time Transport Information System to improve the information challenges associated with public bus transport service in Nigeria so as to meet the transport information needs of public bus users in Nigeria. The specific objectives are:

  1. identify the information challenges that commuters face in using public bus transport services in Nigeria;
  2. develop a user-friendly transport information system that will enable commuters see real-time travel information, so as to effectively plan their daily journey on public buses and
  3. evaluate the performance of the real time transport information system developed in two above

 

1.4              Significance of the Study

 

This research is intended to implement a Real-Time Transport Information System for public bus transport which would reduce unnecessary waste of time, money and insecurity for public bus users as it would provide genuine information. Some of the advantages of this initiative provides access to transport information which improves mobility, maintain or improve road user and workers safety and it also provide live access to transport information which increases security of travellers.

This research aim to make the use of public bus transport more relaxing for passengers and drivers in Nigeria.

 

1.5              Methodology

 

In order to accomplish this thesis objectives, this study focuses on people who travel by public buses in Nigeria so as to identify the information challenges they encounter daily while travelling by public buses.

This study adopted a combination of Structured System Analysis and Design Methodology (SSADM) and Mixed-method Sequential Exploratory Design as the main research methodology.

 

 

 

 

Study One: Mixed- Method Research

 

Mixed-methods research is a creative form of research that integrates both qualitative and quantitative method so as to provide rich insight into a research problem (Creswell, 2003). It has been identified in the social science literature as suitable for information systems research (Creswell, 2003; Venkatesh, et al., 2013). In this study, mixed-methods approach is employed so as to gain deeper insight into the key information problems commuters’ face while using public bus transport services in Nigeria.

 

The data collection consists of two phases as follows:

 

Phase One: This phase involves designing and distributing online questionnaires to commuters. The surveys consist of exploratory questions about how long commuters have been travelling by public buses, how they currently get access to transport information, what they like and dislike about public bus, and suggestions for improvement. The questionnaires are distributed via various social platforms like Facebook, online forums and blogs. The quantitative data collected from the questionnaires was analysed using Microsoft excel analysis toolpak and the qualitative data collected was analysed using inductive thematic analysis technique. Findings from Phase One served as a basis for developing Phase Two.

 

Phase Two: This phase involves interviewing two groups of users (i.e. commuters and drivers) in order to gain an in-depth understanding of their commuting habits, understand the types of information challenges they face daily while using public bus transport, enquire into how they get access daily to bus transport information. The data collected was transcribed and analysed using inductive thematic analysis technique.These two phases allowed us identify the key information challenges commuters face daily in using public bus transport service in Nigeria. After collecting, transcribing and analysing the data from these two phases, a real-time travel information system was then proposed.

 

Study Two: Structured System Analysis and Design Methodology (SSADM)

The proposed system will exploit the step of Structured System Analysis and
Design Methodology (SSADM). SSADM is a methodology used in the analysis of design stages of system development. These stages are:

Problem identification stage in which the problem of the domain
where the system is to be deployed is identified.

System design stage in which the development layout of the proposed system software is defined using Unified Language Parameters.

System implementation and maintenance stage in which the system is implemented with room left for updates that will improve the performance of the system.

 

The system will consist of three application modules:-

  1. The Admin Module: An online mobile website that will enable the system administrator to add information on the route, fares and other vehicle data into the system’s database. The online mobile site will be developed using PHP scripting language and HTML 5.
  2. The Commuter Module: This is a mobile application installed on the commuter’s smart phone. It displays real-time information of bus availability, allowing commuters to schedule trips with drivers.
  3. The Driver Module: This is also a mobile application that was installed on the driver’s mobile devices. The driver can view schedules sent by commuters, respond as well as view the location of the passenger via Google map. The application also gives the driver the option to show if they are available for work or not.

 

Both the Commuter and Driver module was developed using the MIT App Inventor Mobile Application Development Tool. The online database that  was used to store information was developed using the MySQL relational database management system.

Research Tools

The following are the tools needed for the successful design of the systems

Hardware Tools

  1. a) Personal Computer
  2. b) Mobile devices

Software Tools

  1. MySQL database management system
  2. HTML 5
  3. MIT App Inventor

Programming and Scripting Language

 

 

1.6              Organization of the Study

 

Overviews of the other chapters of this thesis are described below:

Chapter 2: This chapter examines existing literatures in the field of information systems that provide an insight into the technological solutions attempting to manage information challenges associated with public bus transport. This chapter is organized as follows: the benefits of a real-time transport information system was discussed, various challenges in implementing transport information system were discussed, and lastly, various examples of different projects of transport information systems introduced in other parts of the world were examined. Projects such as the Traffic Scotland Service- an intelligent transport systems in the United Kingdom, Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC), Japan VICS (Vehicle Information Communication Systems), India ITS, ITS Implementation in the Czech Republic.

 

Chapter 3: This chapter presents and justifies the research methodologies used to fulfil the objective of this study. This study adopted a combination of Structured System Analysis & Design Methodology (SSADM) and Mixed-method Sequential Exploratory Design for the development of a real time transport information system.

The Mixed-method research aims to explore in-depth the information challenges associated with the use of public bus transport services in Nigeria. The studies conducted are: online questionnaires and interviews. The results gathered were analysed using Microsoft Excel 2013 Analysis ToolPak and Inductive Thematic Analysis.

The proposed system employed the step of Structured System Analysis and
Design Methodology (SSADM).

 

Chapter 4: This chapter describes the analysis and the detailed results of the data collected from online questionnaire and interviews. It also describes the steps that were taken to get the program running, implementation of the software, testing and results.

 

Chapter 5: This chapter discusses the results from the data analysis. In addition to that, a real-time transport information software was designed and proposed to improve the information challenges identified by road users in Nigeria. The limitations of this dissertation were described and lastly, the dissertation was summarised and directions for future research were discussed.

 

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