Times of India, 15th September
KOCHI: Proposals in the draft Road Transport and Safety Bill are just what the doctor ordered and Kochi urgently needs to implement, according to transport experts in the city. Over the years, public pressure has been mounting to augment Kochi’s weak public transport system which has been witnessing traffic congestion, accidents and unauthorized parking due to increasing number of private vehicles.
According to experts, if the draft bill is implemented “taking into consideration existing local situations and requirements”, it would help in finding solutions to the city’s transport woes.
The draft bill has proposed integrating various modes of public transport and creating feeder services linking existing bus stations or bays, railway stations, boat jetties and Kochi Metro stations that will come up in the near future.
“The feeder system is essential for the success of public transport. Autorickshaws and share auto services can supplement public transport,” said D Dhanuraj, chairman of the city-based think tank, Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), which has done extensive research on the subject.
Though many new roads have been constructed in the city over the years, bus services have been confined to few routes linking places such as Edappally, Palarivattom, Kaloor, Menaka (Shanmugham Road), Padma (MG Road), Thevara, and regions in west Kochi like Edakochi, Mattancherry and Fort Kochi. “There are many newly developed areas in the city. But these areas have no access to public transport and people are dependent on private vehicles.
The introduction of mini bus services or share autos would help to address the issue. Moreover, there are railway lines that connect Kochi with neighbouring districts such as Thrissur, Kottayam and Alappuzha. The automation of signalling system and completing the doubling of tracks would help the railways to run more short distance trains. The introduction of a suburban railway system would help in decongesting city roads,” said Kochi corporation town planning committee chairman K J Sohan. Apart from this, the Kochi has to explore the potential for water transport. The construction of more boat jetties and linking them with road transport systems by feeder services, and introduction of high-speed boats could bring down the number of vehicles on city roads.
The completion of railway overbridges at Pachalam and Atlantis would also ensure smooth movement of traffic through the city.
To address these issues, the Kochi corporation and Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) have together taken the initiative to constitute a Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA). The Metro authority has submitted a draft proposal for UMTA to the state government.
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PS: The article is a reproduction of the news piece which came in the online edition of Times of India, Kochi edition on 15th September, 2014