Times News Network | April 20, 2018

KOCHI: The civil society groups in Kochi have urged city authorities and nodal transport agencies like Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) to improve pedestrian road infrastructure and encourage people to migrate to public transport system from private vehicles.
Following a discussion initiated by KMRL with representatives of resident associations, NGOs, bus and autorickshaw operators, merchants’ associations and other stake holders on Thursday, a decision has been taken to improve road facilities for pedestrians.

The Kochi-based think tank Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) pointed out that only 6% of the total road network within the limits of Kochi corporation had footpaths.

“Though there are drains along 87.5% of the total road network only 8% of the drains are covered with slabs,” said CPPR chairman D Dhanuraj. He also said that one of the studies conducted in the city revealed that the number of women who opt to walk in the city was high compared to men.

As per the data available with KMRL, the number of people using public transport system has come down over the years.

“It has gone down to 35% in 2015 from 47% in 2013,” added Dhanuraj. Data provided by CPPR revealed that around 16,000 people commute to Kochi city by boats from the islands. Around 65% passengers travel in buses, followed by 15% in two-wheelers, 14% in cars, 4% in autorickshaws and 2% in mini buses.

“This situation should change. If people can walk through the footpaths without the fear of falling into an open drain or getting hurt by protruding objects they will be willing to walk,” said S Gopakumar, president, Better Kochi Response Group (BKRG).

The private bus operators in the city has put forward the demand for route rationalisation. “The time schedules and routes must be revised as per demand,” said George Joseph, partner of Greater Cochin Bus Transport (GCBT), a bus transport company.

Residents’ associations wanted to regulate parking on busy streets and suggested imposing heavy fines on those violating parking rules. They also put across the need to keep the by lanes connecting arterial roads as no parking zones.

“Traffic police should be given sufficient powers and authority to regulate parking in the city,” said Ernakulam district resident’s association apex council (EDRAC) president Ragadasa Prabhu.
In the meeting, it was suggested that shopkeepers could provide discounts to customers who avail public transport.
 “There are many retail outlets which do not have sufficient parking. They can encourage their customers to travel by public transport system,” said a KMRL official.
This news was published in The Times of India, click here to read: Citizens demand better facilities for pedestrians
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