In a article published in The New Indian Express D Dhanuraj, chairman, Centre for Public Policy Research, comments in Kochi the Bus Rapid Transit System will work. While the Water Metro Project focuses exclusively on West Kochi, trams along the same path is unnecessary competition and waste of resources. At the same time, trams can be plied towards the Kakkanad area. But that too, only after the possibility of a bus corridor is exhausted

It was in 2017 that Codatu, a French NGO specialising in urban transport and planning, mooted setting up a new generation tram (NGT) project from Goshree to Fort Kochi. While the idea was acknowledged by various agencies, including the Kochi Metro Rail Limited, it lay dormant until the project was reintroduced under the Rebuild Kerala Initiative. The NGT project has now been included in the resilient transport system mooted by the government in the wake of the disruption of various transportation means during the recent flood.

New-generation tram project 

The project has been mooted in three phases, the first focusing on the 10-km stretch from Goshree to Thoppumpady. The amount estimated for this section is Rs 1,000 crore. In phase 2, the tramway will be branched out to Edakochi (3.5 km) and Fort Kochi (6.5 km).

There will also be three bus interchange terminals at Goshree, Thoppumpady and EdaKochi. It will also have one interchange with Kochi Metro at Maharaja’s College and three interchange points with Kochi Water Metro at Fort Kochi, Park Avenue and Edakochi North.

Experts apprehensive

While the tram project initially got an enthusiastic response from many quarters, experts think the idea of tram should be explored only if the bus corridor projects don’t work out.  According to D Dhanuraj, chairperson, Centre for Public Policy Research, what will work for Kochi is the Bus Rapid Transit System. “In a city like Kochi where there is a limited population, what works the best is a bus corridor. Uninterrupted services every minute through the corridor can solve Kochi’s problems to a great extent,” said Dhanuraj.

According to him, plying different modes of transport on the same route is itself impractical. “While the Water Metro Project focuses exclusively on West Kochi, trams along the same path is unnecessary competition and waste of resources. At the same time, trams can be plied towards the Kakkanad area. But that too, only after the possibility of a bus corridor is exhausted,” added Dhanuraj.

He also thinks tramway, a permanent set up, is unsuited for Kochi, which grows haphazardly. “When it comes to the growth pattern in Kochi, there is no planning. A permanent solution like a tram, which will be set up by spending a lot of money, is too far-fetched at this point,” he adds.

This article was published in The New Indian Express on August 29, 2019 Click here to read