In order to offer better connectivity between various transport facilities of the city, a ‘Mobility Grid’ plan is being prepared for Kochi.
Susan Zielinski, the Managing Director of Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research and Transformation (SMART) of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI),the US, prepared the ‘Mobility Grid’ at a workshop organised by the Kochi Corporation and Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) on Monday.
As a preliminary step, the stretch between High Court Junction and Ravipuram and Kacherippady to South Rail Overbridge have been selected for the plan.The existing transport facilities along the stretch were identified and marked using different colours.Supporting systems like bus stops, railway stations, the proposed Kochi Metro Rail stations, boat jetties, auto-rickshaw stands, taxi stands and parking lots in these areas were also recorded in the plan.
Based on the inputs, a separate map was prepared and after analysing the map, experts opined that the regions lacked sufficient connectivity facilities.
“For instance, there is nearly a half-a-kilometre distance to the nearest bus stop from the Ernakulam South Railway Station. A passenger coming by a private bus will have to walk nearly half-a -kilometre to the KSRTC bus station after stepping down at Shenoy’s junction. These need to be sorted out,” experts added.
They also pointed out that introducing link bus services and shared auto services can offer better connectivity.The workshop also discussed in detail the necessity of developing a feeder system to the proposed Kochi Metro Rail to offer better connectivity to the nearest bus stops and city centres.
As per the Mobility Grid plan, places at selected stretches, which offer good connectivity facilities are Menaka and Pallimukku. The places which lack proper transportation facilities, as per Mobility Grid, are Market Road and TD Road. At present, there are no bus services to Padma from Menaka.
“Though there are pocket roads connecting MG Road and Shanmugham Road, it is not possible to launch bus services through these narrow roads. Hence, it is advisable to launch shared auto services to connect both the major roads,” experts added.
Kochi mayor Tony Chammany, Town Planning Standing Committee chairman K J Sohan, Works Standing committee chairperson Soumini Jain, Education Standing Committee chairman R Thyagarajan, the representatives of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), office bearers of the Merchant Association and various Residents’ Associations attended the workshop.
A draft mobility grid has been readied for Kochi to promote feeder services and share autos in routes where there is inadequate public transport.
The grid was readied by a team led by Susan Zielinski, MD of Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research and Transformation (SMART), Michigan University, after the city’s key decision makers marked out colour-coded details like bus stops, railway stations, proposed metro stations, boat jetties, autorickshaw stands and parking lots in Kochi’s central business district on paper.
By doing so, they saw for themselves the missing links in public-transport connectivity. For example, they observed how rail commuters had to walk over half a kilometre from the South railway station to the nearest bus stop on M G Road. Similarly, private bus commuters had to walk a similar distance to reach the KSRTC bus stand. The participants also acknowledged the need for feeder services and share autos linking M.G. Road with Shanmugham Road.
They saw for themselves how share autos and mini buses had the potential to operate trips along these short stretches and also bylanes where public transport is nil or inadequate. A few cited the need for synchronising traffic signals so that waiting time at signal points is reduced.
The workshop was organized jointly by Kochi Corporation and Centre for Urban Studies under CPPR, an NGO.
They also demanded corridors reserved exclusively for pedestrians. The stakeholders spoke in unison about the need to have more space for footpaths and the importance of pay-and-park lots in urban planning.
Those who were present include Mayor Tony Chammany; chairman of Kochi Corporation’s town planning standing committee and former Mayor K J Sohan; chairman of works standing committee Soumini Jain; representatives of Kochi Metro, residents associations and trade bodies; CPPR chairman D Dhanuraj, team leader Madhu S and research associate Maty Honey O. J.
Later, speaking on “Urban Mobility-Challenges, Practices and Innovations”, Ms Zielinski called for introducing IT-enhanced, multi-modal transportation modes. “In a few years, two-third of the human race will live in cities. Hence, urban planners have a challenging task ahead. People must be provided with seamless integration of a wide choice of different commuting modes and real-time information on their availability,” she said.
She spoke on the need for economical systems like bus-rapid transport (BRT) to woo private vehicle users to less polluting, energy-efficient and cheaper public transport. “In many countries, including the US, people are getting less obsessed with cars and private vehicles. Societal status is no more linked with automobiles.”
On reducing road congestion, she said people must plan so that they reduce their travel needs, evolve methods to work from home or make travelling nicer. She highlighted how money can be saved through optimizing public transport, which in turn would lessen traffic hold-ups and thus enhance productivity. “For this, we need the collaborative partnership of government agencies, entrepreneurs and NGOs.”
A mobility grid to integrate various urban transport facilities has been readied for the city. The grid was prepared during a workshop on urban mobility led by Susan Zielinski, managing director of SMART, University of Michigan.
The workshop, jointly organised by the Centre for Public Policy Research and the corporation, was inaugurated by Mayor Tony Chammany. The programme debated on the major shortcomings in urban transport connectivity.
Participants in the workshop, including corporation councillors, representatives of residents’ associations and civic experts, attended an exercise of identifying areas with poor connectivity in the central business district area.
A detailed map of two stretches, from the High Court junction to Ravipuram and from Kacheripady to the South overbridge, were given to the participants for marking bus stops, railway stations, boat jetties, proposed metro stations, auto stands, taxi stands and parking areas.
During the exercise, it was pointed out that the South railway station had poor connectivity as the nearest bus stop was half a kilometre away. The situation was the same at the KSRTC bus station. Passengers had to walk half a kilometre to reach the bus station from MG Road.
As per the mobility grid, the well connected areas in the given stretches are Menaka, South and Pallimukku, while Market Road and TD Road are the areas with poor connectivity.
A significant recommendation of the workshop was to select certain roads exclusively for pedestrians. Another suggestion was to introduce share autos for connecting MG Road to Shanmugham Road.