Start-up firms decry inadequate support from government agencies to catalyse public transport

Stress laid on augmenting private bus fleet, which fell from 36,000 to 12,000 in State in the past 15 years

September 26, 2022 11:21 pm | Updated September 27, 2022 11:03 am IST - KOCHI

File picture of a private bus in Kochi, Kerala

File picture of a private bus in Kochi, Kerala | Photo Credit: Vibhu H.

Many start-up firms that were actively associated with projects to usher in seamless parking amenities and promotion/integration of different modes of public transport in the Greater Kochi area have been left in the lurch owing to inadequate support from government agencies and many projects not taking off as expected.

They include one which played a lead role in readying a website and an app to identify pay-and-park lots in the region where haphazard and obstructive parking on roads and footpaths has been hampering smooth and safe movement of motorists and pedestrians. The project is dated back to a decade, when arterial roads were extensively barricaded for the construction of the Kochi metro.

The firm’s grandiose plans included one to provide options for daily and monthly booking of slots in pay-and-park units which were already there or were to be identified from among vacant private and public lands. It even attempted to arrange a pick-up and drop facility to and from the parking lots to Infopark and also car wash and eco-toilet services in bigger parking spaces.

With the project failing to take off, its protagonists ventured into an entirely different field.

Officials who played important roles in initiatives that attempted to augment public transport services involving buses and autos spoke of how they were banking hope on the Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA), the first-of-its-kind body in India and which was launched in 2020, in improving the state of affairs. “But the agency too failed to live up to expectations and has been able to do little to lessen commuting woes,” they said.

Despite the all-round pessimism, the head of a start-up firm which ushered in a slew of innovative services in the sphere, said the efforts paid dividends in the form of creating awareness among stakeholders, including trade unions, owners and crew of buses and autos. “Armed with this, we hope a system will fall into place in Kochi to bring about innovative and sustainable models which other cities and States could emulate,” he said.

He sought the urgent attention of the KMTA and other bodies to the need to augment the fleet of private buses, which fell from 36,000 to 12,000 in the State during the past 15 years. This will in turn lessen the number of private vehicles and even autos on the roads, he added.

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