“Issues of traffic snarls and parking woes can be addressed by improving public transport facilities,” comments CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj in a news report published in The Times of India

As Kochi Metro resumes operations on Monday, the autorickshaw drivers and online taxi operators are hopeful that it will open up a path for them to come back to business. The outbreak of the pandemic and the resultant lockdown have rendered many of them jobless. Even unlock procedures initiated by the government did not help public transport service providers win back commuters.
Rajiv Chandran, an autorickshaw driver from the city’s suburb said, “when people abandoned public transport services, our business was hit. Very few people are willing to travel by bus or autorickshaws. So I opened a grocery store in my village. If Kochi Metro could bring back commuters, then we might also get passengers. I can leave the shop with my family and come back to the city to drive autorickshaw.”
Rasheed Ali from Idukki used to operate cab services under online platforms. But as people stayed away from travelling he was forced to go back to Idukki and try other businesses. He says he has debts to clear. “The hope is if passengers take Metro, they will use cabs, taxis and autorickshaws,” he says.

D Dhanuraj, chairperson of the city based thinktank, Centre for Public Policy Research, hints at the need to improve public transport facilities. “Issues of traffic snarls and parking woes can be addressed by improving public transport facilities,” he said. On several occasions police have also pointed out that haphazard parking led to traffic blocks in city.

However, as fear lingers on the possibility of the increase in Covid-19 cases after Onam celebrations, the people are cautious about being in public spaces and using public transport systems.

“Social distancing is the norm. Not all will be willing to travel by bus, trains and taxi cars,” said Rajalakshmi J, a retired professor. “It is about staying safe. I used to depend on online taxi services. Even if it requires me to drive through the heavy traffic, I do not want to take the risk of getting infected by depending on a cab or autorickshaw,” she said.

This news report was published in The Times of India on September 6, 2020. Click here to read

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