100 e-autos to operate from Kochi metro stations from November 1

Drivers trained in soft skills will be given preference to operate e-autos from Kochi metro stations.   | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Signalling that Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) and autorickshaw unions will work together to provide first- and last-mile connectivity from metro stations, the metro agency and Ernakulam Jilla Autorickshaw Drivers Cooperative Society (EJADCS) have reached a pact to operate 100 e-autos from metro stations on the 25-km Aluva-Pettah stretch.

The society has agreed to provide e-autos at all metro stations from State Formation Day(November 1). Conventional autos too will be available at the stations, metro sources said. The decision was taken at a meeting in which KMRL officials led by its managing director Loknath Behera and representatives of the society participated.

EJADCS director board member Simon Edappally said commuters would be able to pay autorickshaw fare at the metro station from where they board the train, following which they will be issued ‘integrated tickets’, which include the fare for metro travel and the pre-fixed auto fare as per government norms. “This will provide a seamless and hassle-free experience to commuters. The ticket can be shown at the auto stand at the station where the passenger alights, following which he can commute to his pre-fixed destination without paying anything extra for the auto journey,” he said.

KMRL has in turn agreed to ready parking space and recharging infrastructure at all the 22 metro stations en route. Drivers trained in soft skills and other components will be given preference to operate from the stations. KMRL and the society will train more drivers, following which they will be issued identity cards and later on special uniform.

The drivers will be given fixed wages by the society which will be the owning agency of e-autos. This will make them eligible for ESI, PF, and other benefits. A list of trained drivers will shortly be handed over to the metro agency, sources said.

German agency GIZ will provide the seed fund of ₹45 lakh, in the form of initial down-payment to purchase e-autos. The society will avail loan to raise the rest of the capital. In addition, each e-auto is expected to get government subsidy of approximately ₹30,000.

An office-bearer of the AITUC-affiliated auto drivers union said a procurement committee had been formed to shortlist the firm which manufactures e-autos that are apt for use in Kochi. “Auto drivers are neck-deep in crisis owing to the skyrocketing fuel prices, competition from online taxi cars, and commuters shunning public transport modes for private vehicles during the pandemic times. The AuSa app readied by the society to prevent disputes over travel fare is alone insufficient to help drivers,” he added.

Cost of e-autos

E-autos on which swappable batteries can be installed cost approximately ₹2.15 lakh. They come without a battery and performed well in different parameters during test drives. Drivers/owners need not bother about the warranty or lifetime of a battery, since they are assured of a fully-charged battery within a few minutes, on payment of a fee.

On the other hand, e-autos that come with factory-fitted batteries cost approximately ₹3 lakh, with the battery cost alone working to over ₹1 lakh. They have to be charged for at least four hours if they run out of charge.

Kochi has less than a dozen e-autos, since their procurement suffered delay owing to the pandemic and also because KMRL and EJADCS were on different pages on the metro’s feeder services.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 10:32:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/100-e-autos-to-operate-from-kochi-metro-stations-from-november-1/article36556205.ece

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