Australian Integrated Multimodal Ecosystem – a world first
You might not know it, but if you’re driving, walking, cycling, or catching public transport in Melbourne you might well be part of a leading project in the brave new world of intelligent transport systems.
It’s called the Australian Integrated Multimodal Ecosystem (AIMES), and it is being run by the University of Melbourne, in conjunction with Cubic Transportation Systems, and 37 business and government partners.
What is AIMES?
AIMES is a transport test bed area, incorporating 100 kilometres of Melbourne roads on the fringe of the CBD, bounded by Alexandra Parade to the north, Victoria Street south, Hoddle Street east, and Lygon Street to the west, plus the EastLink motorway. Contained within the test bed area will be up to 1,000 sensors to collect data on vehicle and pedestrian movement, and public transport use.
It is in essence the world’s first urban laboratory for the collection of data not only on where and how we are moving, but the connectivity of all modes of transport. It also looks to factor in developments within the systems that might influence our mode of travel, or time of departure, such as:
- the addition of new public transport routes
- the addition of discounted fares
- the weather
- road or public transport congestion or disruption
- congestion information, either before you leave and choose your mode of transport, or during your route – phone alerts, intelligent road signs, etc.
The data collection will be extensive. Up to 1,000 sensors of different types will be installed over the next few years, on the roadside, and in selected cars, trucks, and public transport vehicles.
Additional data will be sourced from local council and State government systems, for example Public Transport Victoria’s myki cards, parking data from the City of Melbourne and the City of Yarra. CTS is still planning the test bed’s collection of data for pedestrians and cyclists.
In terms of privacy, it should be noted that none of the data collected will be traced back to individuals.
The power of connectivity
The more information that travellers have, and the more connected all the systems are, the more powerful they are, helping to reduce travel times, stress, and cost. And just as a truly intelligent transport system has all of the information about all of the modes of transport, it can filter this information for the needs of individual users.
“That means no longer broadcasting the same message to everyone on the bus. Rather, it’s about sending a message to each person sitting on that bus and telling them what the best solution is for them,” says CTS Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Tom Walker.
“Transport management of the future has to deliver door-to-door journey management at a personal level. It must recognise that there’s a finite capacity available on each individual route that a customer might use. We can’t build more roads overnight, nor can we infinitely expand the number of carriages on a train, or double the frequency of buses overnight.”
Smart transport systems go beyond autonomous vehicles
In charge of the test bed is Majid Sarvi, Melbourne University’s Chair in Transport Engineering and the Professor in Transport for Smart Cities. Talk of developments in autonomous cars is a real headline grabber right now, but in order to have them on our roads there is a lot of work to be done.
“At present, everyone is talking about autonomous vehicles and they take for granted that we will have them tomorrow and our cities will be ready for them, however the reality is far from that,” Majid said.
“The first thing you need to do to allow multimodal autonomous transport to happen, is to create connections between infrastructure and the transport systems and the customers. Currently, no country in the world actually has a truly fully integrated multimodal transport management system, although many have elements and building blocks in place.”
“In some cases, all the transport modes are managed in one building but each has their own solution or system. The test bed is looking to change this through creating enhanced connectivity, and exploring infrastructure and demand issues in a holistic way to provide tangible benefits for commuters from day one.”
Test Bed benefits
The test bed collects all of the data, and will offer a real-time, system-wide view of what is happening across the area’s transport network. More than just that though, it will in time allow predictive analyses, allowing the test bed to detect the likelihood of problems and diminish their impact before they occur.
“This is an integral step toward paving the way for a seamless, customer-centric transport experience and making Cubic’s NextCity vision a reality,” says Cubic’s Tom Walker. “We need to make better use of the data transport systems collect on a daily basis, and turn this into information that is usable by customers.”
iMOVE’s CEO Ian Christensen agrees, and sees the benefits of a multimodal transport management system as both crucial, and achievable.
“Safe, efficient, effective and easy-to-use transport systems would reduce congestion, improve our delivery of the national freight task and increase Australia’s international competitiveness. And they’re within reach!”
For more information about AIMES, contact Majid Sarvi, at email@example.com