Promoting public transport calls for a lot of teamwork and a shared vision among various stakeholders, Julien Allaire, executive manager of Codatu, has said.

Codatu is a French NGO focused on enhancing the quality and sustainability of urban mobility in the developing world.

Mr. Allaire called for integrating Kochi Metro with other modes of public transport – buses, passenger ferries and trains. “This inter-modal integration is crucial to spread the benefits of metro over a wider area. Metro’s advantages must extend beyond the metro corridor. The months preceding metro’s commissioning are thus very crucial since the quality of public transport must improve alongside the metro,” he said.

Mr. Allaire was speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a workshop organised here by the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) on Unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority (UMTA).

The Codatu team went through Kochi’s draft UMTA legislation and suggested ideas to make it more effective. They provided inputs to KMRL and UMTA stakeholders (civic agencies, traffic police, Motor Vehicles Department, etc.,) on effective integration. “You need a lot of discussions to set up a comprehensive institution (UMTA) that will bring in an efficient public transport system for Kochi. UMTA’s challenge is to simplify complexities in integration, that would in turn help commuters have seamless inter change between commuting modes.”

Etienne Lhomet, Codatu’s independent consultant, said other commuting modes must modernise, with the metro rail remaining the back bone of the integrated transport system. Traffic planning and management, and the upkeep of public spaces in Kochi too must improve to yield desired results, he said. “A city can be changed for good based on changes in mobility pattern. Urban culture and civic sense among people too will improve with the arrival of modern, commuter-friendly transporting modes,” he said.

He called for allotting more funds for Kochi’s water transport, which needs to be modernised. “The government can collect funds by levying more tax and fees on private vehicles, especially cars,” Mr. Lhomet said.

Their teammate Laura spoke of how French cities like Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux recently promoted the cause of public transport by ferrying people for free for three days, following an increase in levels of air pollution in those cities.

KMRL’s deputy manager (Signal and Telecommunication) Jayananda S. said metro’s passenger patronage could increase if feeder buses were operated from metro stations.

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