CPPR Chairman Dr D Dhanuraj comments in a article published in The Times of India

Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) has suspended Metro services after the Centre extended the lockdown till May 3. The Metro agency said that all services will be halted until further orders are issued by the government. KMRL managing director Alkesh Kumar Sharma said the Metro agency took the decision to ensure that Kochiites continue to stay at home as part of the fight against Covid-19. Likewise, it is pointed out that all other public transport systems in the city will be able to resume services only after lifting the lockdown.

Transport planners and other agencies involved in developing and strengthening public transport systems in the city say that they have a tough time ahead, and new strategies have to be evolved and put in place for promoting various modes of public transport.

As long as there is no complete cure for Covid-19, people will be cautious about coming together at public places or travel together in groups. Experts say that polices have to be evolved where travel needs, especially those related to work, can be brought down. It will bring down the need for daily commuting and will help reduce the number of vehicles hitting the roads. According to transport experts, the work-from-home concept widely adopted during the lockdown period will throw light on the areas or sectors where work from home or remote work stations are most suitable.

“Rather than travelling frequently for work, we will have to explore the possibilities and options offered by information technology. It will bring down the dependence on transport systems,” said an official with the transport department. He also said extreme caution and adequate preparations have to be put in place when the railways resumes passenger services. While it is comparatively easy to track people travelling by airplanes, it is difficult to monitor movement of people travelling by trains. Limitations will have to be imposed on the number of people allowed in each compartment in trains, and reservation should be made compulsory. All commuters should be asked to wear masks, and heath check-ups should be done before letting passengers in the trains.

Meanwhile, Kochi based think tank Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) said that the state government should take an initiative to conduct a study on the impact of Covid-19 on public transport. “As the government has prepared route maps and tracked infected patients, it will help in making a preliminary analysis. Without appropriate studies, it will not be possible to come to conclusions on public transport systems,” said CPPR chairman D Dhanuraj

This article was published in The Times of India on April 16, 2020. Click here to read

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