The long-pending proposal to rationalise bus routes in the Greater Kochi area has got a shot in the arm, with Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA) taking a decision to ready a project report in this regard by March 2022.

The bus route rationalisation plan dates back to early days of Kochi metro’s construction works, when New Delhi-based Urban Mass Transit Company Limited (UMTC) did an integrated public transport study and suggested halving of the 766 different routes that buses operated in. This was done foreseeing a marked shift in passenger patronage from buses to the Aluva-MG Road-Pettah Kochi metro.

Studies by Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT University) and city-based think tank Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) followed. They too recommended fast-tracking of the bus rerouting project, by operating in newer routes, in keeping with the city’s expansion towards the east and south, official sources said.

All these studies shed light on a bulk of the 600-odd city and around 400 mofussil private buses operating along Banerjee Road, MG Road and Menaka, leaving much of the other areas with inadequate public transport buses. Buses of KSRTC too operated along these traditional routes, losing sight of fast-developing neighbourhoods eastward of the Edappally-Aroor NH bypass.

Global initiative

Monday’s decision by KMTA to ready a project report in this regard by March 2022 came in the wake of an inception meeting attended by among others Principal Secretary (Transport) K.R. Jyotilal and Mayor M. Anilkumar. French consultancy agency SYSTRA, which specialises in public transport and mobility solutions, would ready the project report as part of the global Mobilise Your City (MYC) programme which decarbonise transport to lessen the impact of climate change. The study will be funded by French development-assistance agency AFD.

The coming months will see frequent stakeholder meetings, including with KSRTC and operators of private buses, while a survey will be carried out to determine the need for public transport in different routes. This will be followed by readying of tentative routes and timings, through which buses would operate. A final rerouting scheme will be readied on the basis of the feedback, sources said.

Representatives of European Union (EU) also participated in the discussions.

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