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A fresh look at Mass Public Transport System for city

Karthik Madhavan
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Monorail will occupy less space, can be completed comparatively early using pre-fabricated structures: RAAC

At a meeting recently, the Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore (RAAC) asked the Coimbatore Corporation to take up with the State Government the need for a monorail for the city.

A presentation made on the occasion said that a city such as Coimbatore, with over a million population, could go in for the mass transport system project, more so when cities with far fewer population and lesser area had taken many steps forward.

Another reason the RAAC cited for having a monorail project for Coimbatore was a mention in this regard in the Governor’s address to the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

The demand and the Corporation’s inclination to have a fresh look at the mass transport project comes as the latest in the series of efforts the various Government and private agencies have been taking for a long to bring in a mass transport facility in the second biggest and most populated city of the State.

The first of the proposals that was discussed was that of mass rapid transit system, as in Chennai.

The Corporation administration of 1996-2001 took up the proposal and dropped it once the experts said it was not feasible in Coimbatore. One of the reasons cited was poor patronage for a project of such capital intensive nature.

Next was the proposal for a metro rail system, as in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. This proposal too had to be dropped because Coimbatore was a radial and not linear city. A circular rail was suggested, making use of the existing rail network around the city.

After a discussion with the Southern Railway officials, this too was given up.

Then came hope in the form of the Central Government-funded Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, which had a transport component.

The Coimbatore Corporation, under the scheme, with the help of a consultant prepared a mobility plan for the city. Therein it was suggested that Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) was best suited for the city.

The Corporation was to identify dedicated bus lanes on the arterial Avinashi, Tiruchi and Mettupalayam roads. This project too went the way the others went.

There could not have been a better, well-prepared study for the city, said S. Baskar of IC Centre for Governance. “The mobility study talked about every aspect of traffic and roads including platform width for pedestrians.”

And the latest in the series of suggestions was the monorail.

At the RAAC presentation, it was said that monorail would occupy less space, could be completed comparatively early using pre-fabricated structures and a trip of the monorail with five carriages would take 10 buses off the road.

The presentation also said that having three lines – the East-West Corridor, Northern Loop and Southern Loop – would cost the Corporation around Rs. 3,500 crore. This estimate was based on the cost of monorail projects, under various stages of execution in other cities.

S.P. Palaniswamy, urban transport expert, said that the Corporation would take up the work at the earliest because every delay meant escalation in project cost.

Voicing the very opinion, Mr. Baskar said that cities such as Ahmedabad and Surat, which were also JNNURM beneficiary cities such as Coimbatore, had gone far ahead and completed many projects, making themselves eligible for second round of funding. Coimbatore, however, lagged far behind.

Highlighting the need for a mass transport system, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam conducted mass campaigns in various parts of the city.

Whatever best the past, the RAAC proposal should serve as a new beginning and the Corporation should in right earnest take up the proposal, said R.R. Balasundaram, president, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore.

For, with the addition of 5,000 vehicles every year to the city’s roads, there was an urgent need for a mass transport system to propel the city to the next level of growth.

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