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.

Pedestrian friendly

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.

Multi-modal transport

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.”

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