An advanced double decker ferry service planned between the city and Goshree islands by Goshree Islands Development Authority’s (GIDA) is getting ready for service, at a private boat yard in Aroor.

The double-hull vessel, costing a little over Rs 1 crore, will transport regular commuters in its lower deck. The air-conditioned upper deck is expected mostly to cater to tourists, for which a higher fare would be fixed.

Though GIDA had stated that the boat can ply at speeds of up to 20 kmph, sources said that this may not be feasible because of stops in islands located close to each other.

“But the ferry will be faster and much more comfortable than those operated by the State Water Transport Department (SWTD),” sources said.

Ferries run by the SWTD in the Kochi backwaters have an average speed of 7 kmph and do not have upper decks, leave alone air-conditioning. Passenger associations have been complaining of how the noisy and rickety vessels operate services from the city to West Kochi and from Vyttila to Kakkanad.

Pilot project

The GIDA ferry, conceived as a pilot initiative, will link select destinations in the list of 23 routes identified by the authority in its master plan. Orders for more boats will be placed on the basis of passenger patronage for the pilot scheme.

“As an economical and non-polluting mode of transport, ferries are much sought after though the trio of Goshree bridges that link the islands with city were commissioned a decade ago. This is because of traffic snarls along the bridges, especially at Vallarpadam,” the sources said.

The total cost of GIDA’s pilot ferry service is Rs 2 crore. Over half of this is for the boat, while the rest will be used to improve/renovate boat jetties so that there is improvement in the quality of service.

The launch of the pilot service is overdue since GIDA had slated it for launch by 2013 end.

Sources did not specify a deadline for the service commencing.

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