KERALA

Goshree islanders demand bus connectivity to city

Buses to Vypeen overcrowded

Staff Reporter

KOCHI: The trio of bridges connecting Vypeen, Vallarpadam and Bolghatty to the city was primarily aimed at establishing road connectivity to the mainland. But it has not fulfilled the expectations of the islanders.

The Goshree Action Council attributes this primarily to the `reluctance' of the Regional Transport Authority to allow private buses from the islands to the city. Now, the buses have to end service near the High Court, which is also called the Collector's Square.

The aim of restricting the services up to the Square was to lessen the congestion near the Ernakulam North and South overbridges.

But council chairman Majnu Komath says that this will result in people who have to get to Kaloor, Kakkanad, Cheranalloor, Tripunithura, Thevara, etc., being forced to travel to these places in two-wheelers and cars. "This will result in further adding to the congestion in the two bridges. The result is that the islanders who were dependant on passenger ferries to reach the mainland have not benefited much from the bridges. The Collector's Square is close to the boat jetty, where islanders used to disembark to catch private and KSRTC buses to get to their destination in the city," he says.

Around 40,000 islanders travel to the city and back daily. A vast majority of them depend on public transport. As of now, they have to alight at the Collector's Square, walk all the way to bus stops and take a connecting bus to their destination. Apart from the time lost, they end up paying more on bus fares. Students are badly hit, since they have to take two bus-concession cards.

"The remedy is two fold — either extend bus services from the islands to the city or extend some city services to the islands. This will prevent congestion of buses and people at the Collector's Square as well," Mr. Komath said. A section of private bus operators are against extending private buses from the islands into the city. They fear that this will eat into their profits. We had sent faxes to the Chief Minister and also met Opposition Leader V.S. Achuthanandan and taken up our grievances. But nothing has happened so far. If this situation is allowed to continue, we may be forced to take to the warpath, he said.

A senior official in the Regional Transport Office (RTO) here said that as of now, new permits cannot be issued on routes which pass by the congested Ernakulam North and South overbridges, till they are widened into four lane. "The RTA had taken a decision in this regard. We are trying to restrict permits of even city services which ply through both the bridges, to encourage buses through the Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road," he said.

Another problem that the islanders face is that there is inadequate number of buses from Munambam and Cherai to Vypeen, much against the ratio of one bus to Vypeen, when two go to the mainland. This has resulted in people wanting to go to Fort Kochi, Palluruthy and Wellingdon Island having to travel all the way to the city to take the connecting bus to these places. Existing bus services to Vypeen are overcrowded.

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