The Cabinet approval to the Kerala Metropolitan Transport Authority Bill on Monday turned out to be a New Year gift to Kochi as it is expected to be a game changer in the public transport scene in the city while accelerating the impact of Kochi metro.
The Cabinet move was in compliance with the Union government’s metro rail policy of 2017 that insisted on the formation of a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) in all cities implementing metro projects. And it has not come a day soon considering that Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) has been waiting for legislation to go ahead with its various innovative projects ranging from a single ticket for various modes of transport to route rationalisation of private bus services.
Former Mayor and a vociferous proponent of UMTA K.J. Sohan regarded the move as ‘revolutionary’ and one which will ‘fulfil the Constitutional guarantee of access to equal opportunities.’
“No matter how many hi-tech proposals are drawn up to improve the public transport, they will all come to naught without legislation like this one. This will change the face of public transport and further expand its reach,” he said.
At present, many important roads in the city are not served by the public transport system, leaving people to fall back on their private vehicles. A data analysis, including point-to-point movement of people through a control room envisaged under UMTA, shows that the route, efficiency and frequency of all modes of transport – water, road, and metro – can be constantly tweaked and changed to keep apace with changing demands and requirements, Mr. Sohan said.
District Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla said that the creation of UMTA would facilitate seamless integration of various modes of transport while enhancing the acceptance of public transport in general. The seamless movement between destinations enables passengers to take logical decisions, he said.
Stress on data
D. Dhanuraj, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Research, emphasised on the need to define the powers of the proposed UMTA and the power equation among its members so that decisions are taken without clashes.
“UMTA should not be a standalone body but should have a research wing for data crunching, enabling planning. It should meet frequently to analyse the data and the changing mobility pattern,” Mr. Dhanuraj said.
Transportation expert Dijo Kappen said the formation of UMTA would help cushion the financial liability of Kochi metro to a certain extent besides benefiting passengers with better last-mile connectivity.
“A linkage among various transportation modes may reduce the traffic density caused by proliferating number of private vehicles hitting the road. Efforts should also be made to bring JNNURM low-floor buses under the proposed UMTA as they were primarily allotted by the Centre for better intra-city traffic and not for inter-city services for which they are now being used,” he said.
This news was published in The Hindu on January 2, 2018; Click here to read: A New Year gift to city