Civic representatives of Kochi, led by Mayor Tony Chammany, staged a protest before a low-floor bus at the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation bus stand on Monday.
The agitation was against the decision of the Transport Corporation to operate the buses outside city limits.
Civic representatives also shouted slogans demanding that the service, which was allotted to the city by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission to ease the traffic on city roads, should be confined to city limits. The buses began their long-distance trips for the first time on Monday.
Besides Mr. Chammany, Deputy Mayor B. Bhadra and Standing Committee chairpersons Soumini Jain, T.K. Ashraf and Essy Joseph and some councillors took part in the protest. The Mayor urged the State government to form a Special Purpose Vehicle, as suggested by the Mission, for operating the buses provided to the city. Of the 200 AC and non AC buses allotted to the city for promoting the use of public transport system and reducing the number of private buses reaching the city roads, the corporation has information on only 50 buses. While allotting the buses, the Mission had also specified that the vehicles should be operated in the Kochi urban agglomeration area, he said.
A meeting of the corporation council, held on November 24, 2009, had suggested the formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for operating the fleet of vehicles allotted to the city.
It had also suggested that the seven buses allotted to the city be operated by the KSRTC till the formation of the SPV. The KSRTC was asked to operate the vehicles as a temporary arrangement. It had also been decided that the council should have the right to decide the routes along which the vehicles were to be operated, Mr. Chammany said. The corporation council had returned to the Transport Corporation 10 routes for operating the buses after introducing some changes in the original proposal.
This included the Fort Kochi-Aluva, Fort Kochi-Kakkanad, Munambam-Chottanikara, Mattanchery-Pookattupady and Aluva-Poothotta routes. The other routes proposed by the civic body included Poothotta-Infopark, Edakochi-Angamaly, Fort Kochi-Info Park, Aroor-Info Park and Aroor-Angamaly.
Hibi Eden, MLA, protested against the decision of the Transport Corporation to operate the buses outside the city. The decision to operate the vehicles on long routes to Nilambur, Pala and Thiruvananthapuram cannot be justified as the vehicles were allotted to address the traffic woes of Kochi. Such a decision should be construed as a challenge to the people of the city, Mr. Eden said.