Over the last years, Kazakhstan pays a lot of attention to the development of urban infrastructure. Large cities receive adequate finances to improve urban environment. Although traffic issues and underdevelopment of social infrastructure are keenly felt in places with continuous increase of population. Therefore country regions implement Smart City Project to ensure more comfortable living under the Digital Kazakhstan State Program.
Smart City Project creates additional amenities for citizens due to improvement of social infrastructure.
Use of new technologies is one of the main principles of Smart City Project. Transport system in major population centers particularly need new technologies. As practice shows, citizens use bus services 2-3 times a day in average. Meantime public transport control systems are not brought up to desired comfort level in many Kazakhstani towns. This certainly reduces priority of public transport on roads and causes inconveniences to passengers (in particular long wait for buses).
Nevertheless, nowadays due to the dispatching and monitoring systems introduced buses can be tracked via a mobile app in many towns.
For example, Petropavlovsk has about 300 buses equipped with GPS-trackers and entered into Infobus online public transport monitoring system. GPS-tracker transmits to dispatcher information on transport location. In their turn, passengers can download the app and see in real time where a needed bus is. Everyday 2 thsd. citizens save their time by optimal planning their trips. Overall number of downloads of Infobus in Petropavlovsk is 15,000. Taking into account local harsh climate, users specifically note practicality of the app in cold season. In future Petropavlovsk plans to introduce e-dispatching system, to equip all bus stops with display panels showing place and time of public transport arrival, expected time for a trip and many other useful functions.
92% of fleet is equipped with trackers in the administrative center of West Kazakhstan Oblast. As per the statistics, 23,247 users in Uralsk downloaded the app, accounting for more than 8% of the town population. Local Akimat also introduced SMS BUS system to pay for fare via a mobile phone.
Infobus app works in many towns of Kazakhstan: Taldykorgan, Semey, Kokshetau, Karaganda, Uralsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kostanai, Atyrau, Aktau, Shchuchinsk, Petropavlovsk, Temirtau and Astana. Developers plan to cover other major population centers of the republic as well. Overall, 800 thsd. people in Kazakhstan downloaded the app. Astana leads in number of downloads, while Astra Bus app was separately developed for the capital.
Astra Bus mobile app was launched in January 2016 to track city buses in real time. As of today, number of app downloads exceeds 700 thsd. Number of active app users is 280 thsd per month. The app plots routes and is available in three languages. Astra Plat electronic fare payment system was also developed for capital public transport. Cashless payment has bonuses like additional trips and free transfers within one hour.
Not only Astana has its own app to track buses. Almaty has City Bus service of convenient use, since as of now it covers more completely buses and routes. As for a payment system, Onai transport card was introduced in 2015 featuring payment by SMS as well as payment for visiting cultural sites (zoo, Medeu highland rink). Soon information on public transport will be shown on displays to be installed at bus stops.
Bus users in Aktobe have their own Aktobe Bus service. The town also organized a service with analytical system to control traffic.
South Kazakhstan Oblast has not yet launched any app to monitor buses, but 95% of public transport is equipped with GPS.
As per the Smart City Project implementation plans, this year many towns of the republic will implement general urban road modernization project. The project will introduce dispatching systems, renew bus stops, and apply traffic signal control systems. Digitalization is aimed at covering each oblast of the republic, not only large cities.