As city road improvement project initiated by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) progresses, the Kochi corporation gears up to take forward plans for introducing share autos and mini-buses through bylanes, where KSRTC and private buses do not operate.The local body said that they would soon hold discussions with various stakeholders to introduce these services through the roads relayed by KMRL as it would help to decongest these roads by bringing down use of private vehicles.“As part of the process, the local body has identified 159 authorized autorickshaw stands in the city. We are awaiting state government order facilitating the introduction of these vehicles. If the government approved the report submitted by Justice M Ramachandran Nair, it would be a clear go-ahead sign,“ said a corporation official.
As of now, people residing along bylanes and interior regions of the city have to depend on private vehicles to reach their destinations or main roads. The officials said that they could introduce share autos even before the government completed the process of constituting a Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA).
“Initially, it can be launched as a trial project.This will help the corporation as well as other agencies to understand how the city residents would respond to such public transport system,“ he said.“These services can later be integrated with UMTA,“ added the official.
Meanwhile, Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a city-based thinktank, which has done extensive research on share autos, said that there was a need to create awareness among existing auto drivers as well as public on the requirement of introducing these vehicles. “The tariff for these services should be finalized only after conducting in-depth studies. Air conditioned services can charge higher rates. These vehicles are big hit in cities like Chennai,“ said CPPR chairman D Dhanuraj. He also pointed out the need to amend the Motor Vehicles Act to implement the share auto project.
However, the Private Motor Thozhilali Federation (AICTU) said that they did not favour introduction of share autos in the city. “The move would only help to increase the number of vehicles using city roads, and would only add to traffic congestion,“ said federation district secretary M S Raju.