A Data-driven strategy for the development of a smart intercity bus system in Ecuador
a comparative public policy analysis between South Korea and Ecuador
Providing convenient and sustainable public transport systems is one of the most fundamental challenges for any local and national government. Massive transport systems represent a primary means of maintaining economic opportunities, reducing inequalities, and ultimately enhancing the quality of life for people. Studies demonstrate that the deterioration of the public transportation system is associated with a continuous increase in the emission of CO2, traffic jams, illegal services, and road fatalities, which have come a public health problem. Therefore, policymakers have been called to act to improve public transportation systems and make sure that they evolve with the needs of society.
This study explores the case of the intercity bus service in Ecuador and tries to shed light on recommendations to solve the structural problems behind the obsolesce of the service. Overlapping routes, accidents, robberies, unpunctual and poor service, limited coverage in rural areas, and lack of information for trip planning and online sales tickets are some of the issues why citizens have switched to using illegal door-to-door services. By conducting a comparative public policy analysis with the Korean Bus Reform and using guided interviews with Korean and Ecuadorian officers, it was discovered that 1) the lack of long-term vision, 2) the inconsistent rule of law, 3) the limited technology and human resources, 3) the need of a technical savvy, but above all the little compromise of authorities have hampered the smartization of public transportation in the country. Even though there are have been partial solutions and advances, authorities and experts recognize that it is necessary to rethink holistically how the transportation system is designed and operated, especially in the context of the recent pandemic lockdown. According to experts, it is expected that small and financially unstable bus operators will fill for bankruptcy. Therefore, authorities and critical stakeholders should ground a sincere discussion to build a collaborative transport system that benefits all not only those who have influenced the system for particular gains.
The delivery challenges include the tools of the Korean Bus Reform, such as stakeholders’ engagement, quasi-public bus operation/management, adoption of an integrated and technical fare system, and centrally-controlled operations. The application of ICT significantly contributed to the successful implementation. Thus, it is recommended to analyze different scenarios and alternatives for a public-private partnership that optimize and accelerate the modernization of the public bus system.
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