Kochi Public Transport Day a initiative by CPPR to promote use of promote the use of public transport system featured in a news article published in the Hindu on relevance and need of Bus Day

Bureacrats on Kochi Public Transport Day. | File

Usually, Bus Day in Chennai ends up as another lost opportunity — if you know what we are talking about. Now that begs the question: How can ‘Bus Day’ be made to count for something? The following initiatives provide a glimmer of an answer.

The Kochi experience

For one year, every month, Kochi celebrated what it called Kochi Public Transport Day (KPTD). The initiative, which concluded in January 2019, was steered by the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) along with various stakeholders, towards meaningful deliberations, which would cover spotting the gaps in the public transport system and recommending solutions. The day was observed with a new theme every month related to bus transport. Fare reduction and last-mile connectivity are among topics that have found great resonance with bus commuters.

D. Dhanuraj, chairman, CPPR, says the campaign was first launched in 2011 as Bus Day. It ran for some months and was revived in January 2018. Dhanuraj says the Kochi initiative involved many stakeholders, having members of residents welfare associations, working professionals, trade unionists, RTO officials, corporates and transport staff on the committee. “We collectively found solutions to peoples’ issues and when we voiced them together it became so strong that the authorities had to take action,” says Dhanuraj.

Citing a few examples, Dhanuraj says some buses coming from Goshree Island were not allowed to enter the Kochi city limits and permits were not given to buses to ply in some areas. “Through campaigns these issues got resolved,” he says.

On KPTD, decision makers including the district collector and transport minister have travelled by bus, and this ensured greater visibility for the issues plaguing bus commuters.

On bus days, those who don’t commute by bus are encouraged to do so.

When CPPR launched the campaign in Kochi, it wanted to see at least 10% of the cars going off the roads on that day, but that was a tall order. “Success of the campaign to me was to see a few city theatres show slides to encourage people to use public transport,” recalls Dhanuraj.

CPPR has a dedicated a site http://www.kochipublictransportday.org that would allow other cities to draw inspiration from the Kochi experience.

The Bangalore experience

From 2010 to 2017 , the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) was observing bus day, on the fourth of every month. It is planning to revive this campaign again.

On this day, BMTC would encourage Bengaluru residents to leave their vehicles at home and hop onto a bus. The transport department would also use the day to introduce new routes.

In Bengaluru, as per reports, during its best year, in 2012, BMTC’s ridership went up by as much as 10% and the city also witnessed a drop in traffic on these bus-days.

Sanjeev Dyamannavar, founder of Praja, a citizens’ network that is geared towards improving public transport, says such initiatives should address the question of last-mile connectivity, which is “usually a huge challenge in any city”.

“There should be considerable focus on improving feeder services,” says Sanjeev.

Hop on and win prizes

If people use public transport in Dubai on certain days of the year, they get a chance to win exciting prizes including gold. Recently, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) concluded the 10th edition of Public Transport Day, which was celebrated from November 1 to 11 and it was based on the theme, ‘Better transport for a better life’.

Taking public transport is defined as taking the Dubai Metro, bus, (water taxi, Dubai Ferry and the Dubai Tram. Twitter handle @rta_dubai says the initiative “reflects Dubai’s care for the environment and sustainable development by encouraging people to use public transport and educating them about the benefits of mass transport.”

This news article was published in The Hindu on November 17, 2019 Click here to read