KOCHI: Premium low-floor and mini buses are likely to ply on the city streets in September.
Besides Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram city would also get the buses as part of a urban transport programme supported by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
Kochi will have 50 low floor AC and 120 low-floor ordinary buses. The city will get 30 mini buses too. Thiruvananthapuram city will get 120 low-floor ordinary buses and 30 low-floor AC buses. The buses would be swanky ones fitted with modern navigation and communication facilities.
The Kerala State Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has placed the purchase orders for the vehicles. The first batch of buses is expected to be delivered next month, officials said.
A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the representatives of the Transport and Local Self Government departments, KSRTC and the Mayors of Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram will be formed for the management of the fleet of buses. The chairman of the KSRTC will head the SPV. The proposal for forming the SPV is likely to come up before the State cabinet for clearance soon. The routes for service and the management of buses will be finalised by the director board of the SPV.
Buses have started operating in cities like Lucknow and Ahmedabad which have also been selected for the transport project, officials said.
The buses would provide point-to-point service to the city commuters. The low-floor buses would benefit the disadvantaged sections of the society including the disabled and the elderly, they said.
The Central and State governments and the civic bodies will chip in with funds for the bus project. The share of the Urban Local Bodies will be raised by the KSRTC.
It is estimated that cars and two-wheelers constitute around 80 per cent of the vehicles that enter the city. Once the premium buses start operating, people may tend to use them leaving their private vehicles back home. The reduction in the number of private vehicles entering the city would help in easing the traffic pressure and reduce the atmospheric pollution, hoped authorities.
At the same time, they are also sceptical about the time that may be needed for the society to accept the culture of using the public transport system in place of private vehicles. Civic representatives had also aired their concern that the addition of around 200 buses would further worsen the traffic congestion in the city.