Poor policy, co-operation stifle public transport

Absence of a clear cut transport policy and inadequate cooperation among government agencies is stifling introduction of public transport through residential and commercial hubs of the city.

Private buses and even KSRTC services continue to prefer the conventional route from Aluva/Kakkanad to Tripunithura/West Kochi through Banerjee Road, M.G. Road/Menaka and S.A. Road, though the city has expanded towards the east and south. “There is reasonable presence of buses in east-west direction. Their presence is nominal in roads in the north-south direction like Edapally-Palarivattom NH Bypass; Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road and Seaport-Airport Road. Thus, commuters venture into the city in cars, autos and two-wheelers, worsening traffic congestion. As a result, traffic management is getting out of hand in the vicinity of Kochi Metro work sites,” a traffic police official said.

The Joint RTO of Ernakulam, Sadiq Ali, said that a few private buses that operated from West Kochi through Kundanoor bridge wound up service by citing low patronage during off-peak hours. “Agencies like KSRTC must rise up to the occasion and operate more trips during peak hours through such corridors. Such flexibility in operation will definitely reduce dependence on personalised modes of transport, which is choking the city.”

He cited the need for a clear-cut transport policy and coordinated effort by Motor Vehicles’ Department, traffic police, KSRTC, private bus operators, PWD and civic agencies to provide an impetus to public transport. “The Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) mooted for Kochi can revolutionise the city’s public transport system. Apart from buses and mini buses, share taxis can considerably lessen commuting woes in areas with nil or insufficient public transport.” Sources said that constituting UMTA will take at least two years.

Interestingly, instead of issuing permits to more private buses through newer routes in keeping with the needs of a fast-developing city, the State government has fixed 700 as the upper limit on number of city buses in Kochi. The KSRTC is yet to deliver the 100 Thirukochi buses that it promised the city in 2012.

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