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NEC upgrades India's bus network with advanced tech

Electronics maker markets traffic control systems and IC fare cards

TOKYO -- Japanese electronics maker NEC aims to tackle India's complex and busy bus network by introducing its control systems to the country, which it is prioritizing ahead of other emerging markets. 

Efficiently collecting bus fares in India is notoriously difficult, as they are paid at cashier's windows or to conductors in cash. To address this, NEC began delivering an automatic fare collection system using integrated-circuit cards in January to a bus company in the city of Surat in the northwestern state of Gujarat. The system, which will be compatible with India's RuPay card payment system, will be available at the ticket gates of express bus stations and for 650 route buses.

NEC also won a contract in July last year for a number of projects from the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, including an automatic fare collection system. The company will market the system for several transport services, and for payments at retailers.

While NEC has secured a number of contracts for mobile-phone base-station projects overseas, its cumulative overseas sales of systems for IC transport cards have amounted to only several billion yen. The company aims for cumulative sales of 10 billion yen ($94 million) by the fiscal year starting in April 2020 through orders in India and other emerging markets.

In January, NEC won an order for advanced transport management systems in the city of Pune in the midwestern state of Maharashtra. The  company will develop bus administration systems, including those to adjust bus intervals and reroute buses depending on traffic and road closures.

The company also signed a contract for a bus depot management system in Pune. Operations that had been done manually, or based on employees' experience, will be managed online. Such operations include securing backup buses, managing parts inventory and the attendance of bus crews, and recording sales. The system is widely used in developed countries and should help improve operations in countries where it has yet to be introduced.

Pune has been trying to streamline its transportation services by providing arrival information at bus stops through a bus management system that uses a GPS introduced in 2015.

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