The low-floor buses procured with assistance from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), and operating in the capital and Ernakulam from 2009, are all set to be launched in the other 12 districts too.
In addition to 313 buses being operated by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation since November 2009 in these two cites, the State has asked for another 1,011 buses under the extended JNNURM scheme. The aim is to provide an efficient urban public transport system and to discourage private vehicles.
The 12 districts have been clubbed into five clusters based on homogeneity and demographic profile for fleet operations. Cluster I comprising Kozhikode, Kalpetta and Malappuram will get 259 buses; Kottayam, Thodupuzha, and Pathanamthitta (Cluster II) 216; Kannur and Kasaragod (Cluster III) 164; Thrissur and Palakkad (Cluster IV) 148; and Kollam and Alappuzha under Cluster V will get 224 buses.
Of the buses, 45 per cent will be semi low-floor non air conditioned buses (900 mm long) each costing Rs.30 lakh; 30 per cent semi low-floor non air conditioned buses (650 mm long) each costing Rs.40 lakh; and the remaining premium standard air conditioned buses each costing Rs.90 lakh.
The project cost is Rs.649.55 crore as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR) prepared by the State. The Central assistance will be Rs.436.48 crore (80 per cent) and the State’s share (20 per cent) is Rs.213.47 crore. Intelligent transport system; upgrade of 60 depots to accommodate the buses; and installation of central control room will cost Rs.60.22 crore.
Confirming the clearance of the DPR, official sources told The Hindu that the Local Self Government Department was awaiting minutes of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee on Urban Infrastructure and Governance meeting held in Delhi to know the number of buses sanctioned.
The orange-red and light green buses purchased under JNNURM had changed the concept of buses among the public. Its features include LCD destination boards in Malayalam and English with route number, route and destination, and low platform for hassle-free boarding and alighting.
Features to be introduced are electronically adjustable floor depending on condition of the road; ramp for the physically challenged; and facility for fixing wheelchair.
There will also be facilities for charging mobile phone and laptop; computer-aided onboard system to diagnose engine’s fault; public address system for the driver to communicate with commuters; and GPS-enabled facility to announce and display the destination.