Vilnius – Day 10, Cars, Buses, Bikes and Taxis…

Rama Divakaruni, Day 10  (Wednesday, June 4) – Cars, Buses, Bikes and Taxis……. A long day winds down with an equal measure of exhilaration and exhaustion.

First our field study for 1st hand observation of early morning traffic.  Andrius picked us up at 7am and we saw first hand the traffic backed up entering the city from the north and west at the first roundabout. There was a good 2-3Km backup on the Vilnius-Panevezys Highway. We headed north on the highway (against traffic) toward Utena and went past Santariskes — the medical center. There was no fast lane and  poor bus service on this route.

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We went all the way to the suburbs and the source of the traffic .  We turned around and went over to the future BRT route and decided to tackle the traffic head on. Venkat got on a bus at 7:35AM and I stayed in the car. We went ahead of the express bus as long as there was no dedicated lane. Soon as the dedicated lane appeared, the bus took off ahead of us (also clear that the bus lane was not well enforced). Clear revenue opportunity for the city!   At 7:53AM as we approached the city, we asked Venkat to get off. The bus had won. We headed back north and the traffic had eased a bit since we clearly past the 8am critical hour. We headed back into the city  and the fast buses were packed (good!).  We had learnt a lot. Other team members are going to try this tomorrow.

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We got back to our makeshift office in the hotel and Venkat and I got to work on the charts and preparation for the afternoon mtgs.  We tried a bike vs hike experiment to head to the offices of Susisiekimo Paslaugas. The bike rental delayed Will and Venkat and I managed to walk there  before they got there. Winner – the hike (this time).   The mtg with a major IT partner  at the Susisiekimo Paslaugas offices was very productive.  The traffic light system was quite optimized and when Susisiekimo Paslaugas introduced fast bus lanes, it automatically modified controls and things worked smoothly.  Impressive.

While Will headed back to get other work done, Venkat and I headed to the municipal offices to chat and socialize our thinking and recommendations on the data layer as well as to meet with one of the major telco companies.   Within Vilnius the accuracy is 100s of meters.  One of their team went on to show his family’s location and where all 4 members were. The accuracy was pretty good! Considering we only need group data and  we need the thing anonymized, this is good!  The meeting turned out to be quite productive.

Since we had worked through lunch today, we decided on an early dinner and combined it with another opportunity to do a field study.  We met at the lobby and headed to an early dinner of vegetarian Indian food via taxi.   Venkat and Will biked and nearly beat us. Winner – taxi, but they had paused to watch the flag lowering ceremony at the President’s Palace.   We made it there and got done with a sumptuous meal and decided to walk back to burn it off. (Did not stop a few of us picking up ice cream on the way back!)..Given the 54N latitude, the sun was still way up when we got back to the hotel.

We then all huddled in our makeshift office and hashed out a first pass of the deck together and a first pass of our recommendations… We clearly got done way past midnight. Venkat and. I meet in 6.5hrs.. Need to get some sleep. Will and I head to Kaunas technical university tomorrow pm to present to the students. Wish us luck!

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