Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Shared service transport systems like share autos, share taxis or buses which feeds commuters to other modes of transport. Primarily they are small vehicles accommodating 5-8 passengers which can travel through narrow roads. They are flexible as they can commute to any location; convenient as they pick and stop wherever the passengers demands and are available throughout the day, cost effiecient, as people can commute to different locations spending less compared to autos, taxis and buses, and finally they are user friendly as it can provide comfortable seating and other facilities.
- Permit: Permits shall be given by relevant RTO’s to vehicles to ply as shared feeder system for short distances spanning 5-10 kilometeres. For eg: In Chennai shared services(share autos) travel 6 kms on an average per trip.
- Shared service vehicles: Popular vehicles used in other cities are maxi cabs (TATA Magic, Mahindra Maxximo), and share autos (Vikram , Arjun etc). Chennai, Alwar, Rajkot, Lucknow, Hyderabad are few major cities where share autos are very common. They help people to reach railways stations, bus stands etc.
- Best for city like Kochi with numerous bye roads and places without access to public transportation. For eg: Kochu Kadavanthara people can commute to Thevara, Vennala residents to Eroor.
- The services shall connect the unconnected locations and where accessibility is minimal. The road density (per 100 sqkm) of Kerala is 414kms while the national average is only 74.9 as per Economic Review of Kerala, 2003. Kerala including Kochi has a high rural road penetration which means that by introducing such services, we can provide accessibility to the rural population of Kerala. Further the road density/lakh population is 505.46 when the national average is 259.20, which shows that a large population lives in a single area. Providing access to such areas would therefore support a huge population of people. The demand for such services is therefore huge which the current KSRTC and private buses are finding it difficult to operate.
- Connectivity to major transit points: The services shall enable people to travel to major bus terminals like Kaloor and KSRTC Bus stand, jettys like Ernakulam jetty, Fort Kochi and Vypin Jetty and Vytilla Mobility Hub. Facilities shall be provided in railways stations, bus stand, jettys and mobility hub for such services to drop and take in passengers resembling ‘hop on hop off’ services.
- Suitable to Kochi : As per the Economic Review, the roads are narrow (varying from 11 m to 26m) and congested leading to distortions in traffic and slowing the pace of traffic movement. Introduction of new buses and building infrastructure will not help a city like Kochi which has very less space for expanding of roads. In such scenarios shared services which take very less space and accommodate more people than private vehicles will be a useful alternative. With BSIII norms coming into places, the pollution levels and energy levels can be controlled.
- Operational ease: The drivers shall be at liberty to fix routes and ply in areas where there is a considerable population looking to travel short distances to catch a bus, boat or train.The service shall allow maximum 7 people to travel at a stretch and a distance depending on the landscape pattern. Such services shall be useful in during nights or early morning and also facilitate passengers to commute to offices on a daily basis. Major offices centres like Panampilly Nagar, Kakkanad
- Support other services: The services shall not substitute existing transport modes like buses, but augment the services. The shared services which operate as feeder systems to buses, trains and proposed metro rail can provide the required ridership. For a person travelling from Netoor to Muvattupuzha. He can take a shared service till Vytilla Mobilty Hub and get buses from the Hub. Likely conflicts between buses and such services can be avoided by fixing routes and time on a case to case basis. For Eg: Buses plying between Fort Kochi and Cherai shall not be affected by short services to various locations like Munnambam, Elakunnapuzha, Kadamakudy etc
- Fares are reasonable: The fares shall be fixed according to kilometers travelled and range from Rs 3 to Rs 10. For Eg: In Chennai, a typical share auto charges Rs 5 for 1.5 kilometers and Rs 15 for travelling around 6 kilometers. The fares shall be flexible depending on the location and time but monitored by relevant authorities.
- Incentivise passengers: Passengers travelling in buses or boats can be incentivized to use such services. Giving offers, monthly passes and other facilities will be useful to attract commuters. For eg: Special offers for travelling to Cherai beach or visit Palipuram Fort. Tourist centres in locations like Cherai, Kadamakudy, Vypin, Kadambrayar (Pallikara) etc can leverage on such opportunities.
- Huge Employment opportunity: Huge employment opportunity can be created by allowing such shared services to operate. As per our Study in Chennai, the share auto industry generates revenue of Rs 2 Crores per day which is 66 times more than Chennai MRTS collection. They carry around 1.8 million passengers every day and are one of the most preferred modes to commute to locations within and outside the city.
Kochi can become the first city in India to formally integrate shared services like share autos as a feeder system.
- Few Routes where such services can be utilized:
Kakkanad- Infopark- Edachira
Kakkanad- CSEZ - Karingachira- Irumpanam- Thripunithura
Kakkanad- HMT Junction –Pukkatuppady
Kakkanad- Thuthiyoor- Vennala- Chalikavattom
Thripunithura- Eroor- Vennala
Thripunithura- Maradu- Kundanoor- Panangad
Edapally- Amritha Hospital
Edapally- CUSAT- Thrikakkara
Kadavanthara- Kochu Kadavanthra- Panampilly Nagar- Thevara
Kadavanthra- Kathrikadavu- Kumaran Asan Nagar- Kaloor
Kadavanthara- Subhash Chandra Bose road –Thammanam
Kadavanthra – Gandhi Nagar
Kacheripady- SRM Road
Chittor- Cheranaloor- Manjummal- Eloor- Pathalam- Edayar
Vypin- Elamkunnapuzha- Cherai
Vypin- North Paravoor- Kadamakudy
Cherai- Munnabam- Chendamangalam
Thopumpady- Panayampilly- Kapalandimukku- Mattanchery- Fort Kochi
Thoppumpady- Perumpadapu- Edakochi- Kumbalangi- Aroor
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Urban ecosystems are evolved over the ages. Cochin has ignored rich and traditional past. Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are good examples of how planners can kill the rich culture and traditions of an ecosytem. In my school classes, I was so curious to study about these places and I was so excited to be in the land of historical importance. I was shocked when I got an opportunity to visit these places as I grow older. These places are dead are does not carry any vibrancy that I had learnt in my school classes. From M G Road to Fort Kochi, it takes an hour by bus. my History teacher had taught me that Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are part of Historical ferry centres. but where are they?
today, M G Road is undergoing such a change over. The planners say that they have diverted the city traffic to help metro rail construction. Mobility hub at Vyttila has helped them to decongest the city. but it also raises a question on traffic ban in Cochin city? have the authorities ensured accessibility to M G Road to commuters? Buses could be replaced by mini buses, autos and share autos. in the last two years, whenever i drive on M G Road, I am greeted with 'For rent' banners on the buildings on both sides. In recent times,I am told that many are vacating M G Road for Metro rail construction. I do figure out that M G Road is becoming increasingly deserted and the site rings alarm bell for all of us.
I do not want M G Road to become another Fort Kochi. Proper arrangements for connecting M G road with the outside world shall be there even during theses changing times. dont think that metro will solve the woes and plights on M G Road. rather it shall be converted as a walking mall. it shall be an aspiring destination for on street food cafes and entertainment. let the city grow eastwards and the business and commercial establishments also let loose with these developments. it gives ample opportunities for the eco system to rearrange itself to provide the best street amenities on M G Road to the public at large. lets have free rides and green space and window shopping on M G Road !!
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
PARKING IN KOCHI
Parking has been a major concern for all countries, states, local authorities and traffic police across the world. Parking has now been taken as a part of the larger traffic and transport development by the entities concerned with city development. Since the effects of parking has direct relation to traffic movement and at the same time car sales are considered as a measure of urban development.
Parking has been given minimal importance in the various city plans in India. Though the National Urban Transport Policy 2006 mentions about the need to integrate parking into city development plans (CDP), very few states have taken the lead. Fortunately Kerala has been one of the states which have framed a policy under the directions of Ministry of Urban Transport as per the JNNURM scheme. The Kerala Parking policy is a noteworthy attempt inspite of the fact that it does not contain a clear strategy to implement parking management methods. In fact Mizoram and Sikkim has come out with a policy to regulate parking by heavily restricting car ownership, following the Japan model of Proof of Parking. A Sikkimese needs to show that he has parking space while buying a car, was a clear indication of the hill state to decrease the proliferation of private cars. While such policies may not be replicated in other states, there is an urgent need to relook the strategy of the state towards parking keeping mind the huge growth of private cars. Building flyovers and roads would not facilitate the huge growth of private vehicles, let alone providing huge parking spaces (multilayer or otherwise).
There has been no data to calculate the number of parking spaces required to facilitate the 9,38,124 vehicles been registered in Kakkanad RTO office alone as on 2010. Even if we see that less than 5 percent of the total registered vehicles travel through the city a point of time. The parking demand is still very huge compared to its supply. The question here is whether we need to provide more parking spaces or provide regulations for parking or car ownership to restrict private cars into the city. Restrictions in parking or car ownership will require a better public transport system and a seamless traffic management system. This is however a long term process demanding time and money. New York and Hong Kong have excessively priced parking topping the list of the most expensive list to park your vehicle at monthly rates of $933 (Rs 42,237) and $ 745 (Rs 33,726) respectively as per Global Colliers International Parking Rate Survey 2010. While India states of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai figures among the lowest in the world with $1.28 (Rs 58), $1.07 (Rs 48.4) and $ 0.96 (Rs 43.42) respectively. Parking rates are often fixed excessively to discourage people to use private vehicles and often act as an incentive to use public transport.
Interestingly if we go by the National Urban Transport Policy, which mentions that parking rates shall be calculated according to the land value and land use pattern. Then it would be interesting to note what the parking rates in places like Marine Drive, Kaloor or South Junction would be.
The need of the hour is to devise parking management strategies aligned to the growth of traffic and the necessity of balancing growth in terms of car use, space and public transport. Kochi which has already found its place in the urban map through its projects like Vallarpadam Transhipment Terminal, Metro, Smart City etc will need to systematically plan its growth through traffic and parking management strategies. The common perception that providing parking space is the duty of the state and extends to right of the citizens to demand marking is skewed. This can be correlated to the predicament of asking the state to give a room to keep ones Air Conditioner!! Making parking costly and encouraging people to use public transport is the model which needs to be followed. At the same time, there is a need to clearly demarcate parking spaces and provide parking options through multilayer parking facilities or other models at a PPP basis. Parking structures shall be developed as a revenue generating model for the Corporation by renting out parking spaces and attracting investment. Other strategies which have been followed to restrict parking is making car ownership very costly by increasing taxes like in Netherlands, where the car cost is less than the total taxes spend for buying a car. Kochi and Kerala need to move ahead of other states by taking the lead through such policy interventions intend to ease city development.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Mobility hub row unwanted: CPPR
KOCHI: Even as debate continues on the role of Vyttila Mobility Hub Society and the KSRTC in deciding the transport routes and operations in Kochi, the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) has come forward with the statement that the whole row may be unnecessary.“While submitting the report, the CPPR had clearly stated the vision for having a mobility hub in a city like Kochi. If questions are raised about the role of KSRTC in deciding the city operations, it is because the concept and vision of the mobility hub at Vyttila is not understood,” the organisation said in a press statement.The Mobility Hub Society, according to the CPPR, shall be in charge of the entire transport operations in the city. Meanwhile, at the Mobility Hub Society meetings and discussions, all stake holders, including the KSRTC, private bus owners and associations, autorickshaw unions and inland water navigation operators shall be represented.Government functionaries like Southern Railway, Metro Rail, RTOs, traffic police and district transport officers shall be represented but the power to decide the operations and city routes shall be vested with the Mobility Hub Society.The society will also have the power to decide upon the modifications in transport routes owing to emergencies, festivals or other local requirements.“This arrangement will help them to sit around a table and discuss the transportation requirements.“One does not have to rush to Thiruvananthapuram to address the traffic needs of the city. That way, the city will have a comprehensive transport plan and thus increase connectivity to the remote and ignored areas.The KSRTC, on the other hand, will continue to decide its inter-city operations.“The hub will decide on owning intra-city buses whereas the KSRTC can continue to decide on the inter-city operations,” the statement said.The Mobility Hub Society will work in tandem with the Kochi Corporation and can facilitate the city planning and influence land use pattern.The Mobility Hub Society can help the city development plans by providing consultancy and services in terms of bridging the gaps in connectivity. Same shall be the case with the inland water navigation priorities. The society can develop the inland water navigation routes and entrust the operators with the task of easing out the traffic congestion on the city roads.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Usual day, usual routine, usual food, usual dialogues to mom, usual paper reading, usual mannerisms.... unusual thoughts!!!
The sun has risen, but shrouded by the meandering clouds..perfect day for doing an unusual thing to happen...few things came to my mind..why not walk? why not cycle? cycle!!! reminds me of the days i used to 'not use' cycle having a wildcat kept at my home...of the day when i slammed to a waste bin devoid of breaks, of the day we celebrated cycling with 500 odd participants in the Reinventing Cochin Cycle Rally.... this was enough to spur me to take an unusual route !!
I didnt have second thoughts to ask my neighbour to lend me their cycle!! for i dont know anyone who rode cycle in this motor cycle days!! BSA SLR was ready to take me..i chose to ride to my office located 10 km from my house which had the National Highway (NH 47) converging at the busiest junction of my state (vytilla, Kerala). This thought was enough for a person to retract from the endeavour. Inspite of father's 'its high traffic and dangerous' talk, I had made up my mind to take the unusual route!!
Without much fuss i pedalled my way through the route, which I and many others usually sped in motorcyles and cars. My first uphill task was to cover the first stretch consisting of small hill and a potholed road. I had to meander the curves and junction points without losing 'my mind and balance'. I looked for companions, only to find one student of the adjacent school (Vennala High School) staring with his geared cycle... i am facing competition!! i swiftly overtook him, only to find that he took another route!! Missing a chance to satisfy my ego of touching the finishing line first, I continued my journey...
By that time I had overtaken a 'Driving School' learner, learning the basics of controlling a machine!! Pondered over a moment as to the time and money spend in learning an art operated by a motor!! Recalling P.T Usha, our Payolli Express, who had opined that motorsports in no sports, when compared to the physical limits experienced when she missed the bronze and the glory!! Aint I smarter than the Driving School? aint the inventor smarter than the invented!!
I threaded a different route to meet a BMW (KL-7 AL 5555) who jealously pushed me to the sidelines... i wanted to take revenge!! so did I.... the humps, the narrow road and the busy junction conspired to help me to win the Cycle vs the Car unofficial race... enough reasons to smile and push me to complete the latter stretch, which had hundreds of such competitors.
Reaching the National Highway touted to be the lifeline our the country (as aptly put my dearest Vajpayee that Highways resembled the lines of his palms), I took the service road. The heat was on and I had a discomfort feeling setting in. The newly introduced JnNURM buses looked at me with sympathy!! Didnt they know that cycle is much cheaper, more friendly and better saver compared to their high investment vehicle..
Interestingly I was taking a route which had the Maruti Suzuki,Hyundai, to the Prosche and the Jaguars!! I encountered a board displayed before the latest Maruti Suzuki Swift Diesel calling for 'Switch to Maruthi, save on fuel' ..what a dichotomy for a cyclist? The issues at Maruti's plant at Gurgaon have been making daily headlines...lost in the midst would be the number of people (above 15 years olds) who had bought cycles in the last 5 years!! Will I hit the headlines for venturing to ride a cycle amidst a sea of cars, at a time when growth of the economy is depended on the automobile population, when driving schools and showrooms have thrived!!
I wondered whether man is a better form of ape or is it vice versa, when I rested in front of the Porsche !! My apprehensions were laid to rest when I saw a natural modified Hyundai vehicle.. prayers for the souls who drove it... lot of time to think while riding a cycle!!! I advice not to think too much while riding a car, or else you stand a chance of following the souls who had driven the car...
I was relieved to see an cyclist carrying eggs, opting to take the hatchery safe in his 'life' cycle. I had to help him out in the railway gate which was shut for repairs. I was encountering another human intervention which had changes lives..the chuk chuk express...
I was feeling the heat.. , but the enjoyment of riding a cycle has relived me of the pain. I reached my destination and opened by smart phone to assess the speed and time of my cycle travel. It showed that I reached in 29.52 minutes stopping for 2.31 minutes moving at an average of 18 mph touching 20 mph!! Not bad for an amateur biker!!! I replenished my soul with water and living to tell the tale of cycling in a motor world!!
Few things I learned :
1) Take enough water, or you will feel melted in the heat
2) Try not to overtake, maintain the royalty and chime on the shroudness of others
3) Start early morning before the sun sets in and return before the sun sets!!
4) Cycling helps to improve fitness, stay healthy and understand human emotions (when you are dead tired with a punctured tyre on a highway with no shops)
5) Have short breaks while pedalling, make sure your ego does not overcome you..or else you break your back
Waiting to repeat the exercise!!!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I was present during the Cochin Conclave hosted by Cochin corporation. Though it was a good program, the theme of the discussion was not aptly presented. In my opinion, roads cannot be approached as a stand alone entity. in fact, roads are getting repaired because the other elements surrounding the roads are not taken care of or properly addressed. Roads works are not more tarring and repairing works. Streets need to be conceived as Public Spaces and roads are the major component for that matter; that’s all. What we need to improve upon; design the new or existing roadway, including streetscape design components and complete conceptual level engineering plans. It shall be a holistic plan to attract users of street to own and take proud of the streets and not alone in the case of roads as we look at it today.
There shall be a detailed project concept including the improvement plans for the existing roads. The detailed Project Report would inter-alia include detailed engineering survey, traffic study, sub- soil investigation, X-ray mapping of existing utilities like Electrical cable, Telephone cable, Water lines etc,. and storm water drain, condition survey & adequacy survey of storm water drains, Identification of future requirement for utility department, incorporation of various proposal of Highways and PWDs, Corporation of Kochi, Metro Rail, KSEB, KWA etc., detailed design of foundation, Sub-structure & Superstructure for Flyovers, Foot Over Bridges, subways, skywalk, etc., Multi level parking system, designing of adequate lighting arrangement, Designing the adequacy of drains, Bus shelters with detailed cost estimates and assessment of social and Environmental impacts along with necessary mitigation measures.
There shall be comprehensive plans for the following;
- Traffic and roadway improvement
- Streetscape improvement
- Design of individual elements
Today, everyone is concerned about Kochi roads because of gutters and potholes. But we should not forget that there is an increase in the number of private vehicles hence wear and tear is also been accounted to these facts. It is not an excuse as there are new technologies and methods available in plenty to ensure the long life for roads. But this is the time to reorient ourselves for the concept of roads and streets. It shall be a happy place for pedestrians, motorists, joggers, jay walkers, vendors, cyclists etc. more private vehicles are on the streets because of the poor public transport. Causalities are on raise on the roads not only because of poor conditions of the roads but also because of the poor pedestrian facilities and lack of separate lanes for cyclists and two wheelers. We need street furniture and comfort stations so that citizens can use this secular place for not only for mobility requirements but also use it as public spaces.
We need streets that have the following benchmarks;
- Establishing widths of Rights Of Way
- Accommodating all modes -Pedestrian, Bicycles, Motorized vehicles, etc.
- Concept of Lanes and Shared Street Space
- Pedestrian Networks
- Pedestrian Street Crossings and Curb heights
- Turning radii
- Service and emergency vehicles
- Road Safety
- On-Street Parking
Next time, when Corporation hosts such an event, it shall be 'Cochin Street conclave' rather than 'Cochin road conclave'. there shall not be a fundamental flaw in judging the issues related to streets..
Friday, September 16, 2011
Media reports say that Planning Commission agreed in principle to sanction metro rail in Kochi while posting the matter to purchase committee to evaluate the financial obligations. My friends in media are a little apprehensive to conduct the due diligence of the metro project as they fear public backlash on this subject. Same is the case, when Italked to political leadership as many confess privately that they don’t agree with metro rail project. There is a moral hazard as they perceive it in the public domain as they go in either ways on this subject.
I have a firm belief that metro rail in Kochi is not going to solve any public transport issues for many reasons. In city like Kochi, where the population is almost stabilised in CBD area as per the census figures, metro taking its route through MG road cannot be comprehended. Many reports say that the average speed in Cochin city will be 6 km/hour in 2030 so metro is advocated. I am not sure which part of the city they are citing for this 6km/hour argument. This is a city where the master plan is pending for decades and no one even sure about the growth pattern of the city. I am sure it is not going to be M G Road or Banerjee road for that matter. FSI is low in the state that high raise buildings are not a possibility in the near future. Or, I am not sure whether metro plans are linked with FSI and real estate development so that it becomes a comprehensive town plan. i searched for it at many places but could not find out any documents related to such a plan, nor is the case with ridership. I am convincingly told that no one has any studied numbers on the floating population even now. Only number that we have is that cochin has a population of 6lakhs plus as per the latest census figures and it accounts for 1.5 million when the city is connected to suburbs and mofussils. But we are going to spend around 4300 crores of rupees to get this fancy project. What does it mean? Each kilometre will cost 160 crores. Are we in the right direction understanding the real time issues of sustainable public transport in cochin?
The present alignment starts from Alwaye to Pettah going via MG Road. A large portion of the metro is running parallel to National Highway where as the other part is along Petta – Vyttila road. I am not sure whether Thirukochi buses and private buses in these routes are going to compete with the metro ridership? Do we have that much of population coming to MG road every day? How many are going to alight at the stops like Elamkulam and Thykkodam during the off peak hours? What is the feeder system for the commuters from west kochi side including Mattancherry, Fortkochi, Kannamali, Vypeen, Palluruthy etc? the present alignment does not connect to boat jetties of bus stations. I am told that metro station at Vyttila is not in mobility hub but opposite to temple thus commuters have to walk to the Hub to take the respective buses. Why can’t we plan all these if we are so possessive about the metro plans? At Edappally, Lulu Shopping mall is coming up and it is considered to be one of the largest in Kerala. Why can’t we have a station in one of their floors and ask them to fund it? I am surprised why cant we ask private parties to fund each station where jewellers and textile shops are known for its daily trade volume. If they are not willing, i will assume that there is some problem with the metro plan. No private party will be ready to burn their fingers.
The land use pattern of Kochi is getting transformed. GIS maps show a huge difference in the last thirty years. Interestingly, those areas not connected by these plans. so what are we trying to prove? Please help me to understand this metro rail project in Cochin... I am not against any good project but I am really concerned about the use of public money worth of Rs 4300 crores for 25 km build up in a small city like Cochin. Are we looking for big ticket project? Dont we have the logic to address the traffic issues with a small pie since Cochin is a very small city and its problems are also manageable? We are building this metro where there is no money for the corporation and the government to repair the roads. I am curious and anxious to know what is going to happen. What is going to be the recurring expenditure for the daily operations of metro? Help me to understand the numbers and figures correct as i am not convinced about this big ticket project...
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
It was shocking once our team started observing the traffic movements at Vyttila. Junction is designed in a poor way and then the watch tower and related space take away a huge amount of land unused. if the aim of the design was to give ambiance to the whole location. it is no more there. other day, i found labour removing grass from the whole area. if they wanted to provide pedestrian island, the whole area is fenced so that no one can use the area. every one complains about Vyttila Junction and then we found out that there is so much of space for a better junction design but unfortunately they are ill managed and designed.
watch tower at Vyttila took my interest to similar junctions at other parts of the city. in most of the cases, we found that watch towers have no utility. most of them consume good space intruding into the free and seamless flow of traffic. i think we need a watch tower audit in cochin. i wish the civil society organisations will take a serious look at this issue. watch towers can be designed and erected in a better way and the space they consume at present can be left for free flow of traffic.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
‘Bus Day’ will be conducted on the third Wednesday of every month, for the next three months. The state’s first Bus Day was held on December 18, 2010. It was flagged off from Kakkanad Civil Station at 9 am by actor Dileep. Transport Minister Jose Thettayil, Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany, Deputy Mayor Bhadra Satheesh, and Collector Dr Beena used the public transport system on that day, in addition to other celebrities, MLAs, and prominent persons from all walks of life.
A well-developed public transport system has been advocated by most advanced countries. Public transportation is a critical link to jobs, economic expansion, and quality of life in our community. Riding the bus is easy, inexpensive, convenient, and comfortable. It also saves money, and wear and tear of personal vehicles, while reducing traffic congestion and preventing air pollution.
‘Bus Day’ is a campaign aimed at branding buses as the best way to move about a city. It encourages people to leave their vehicles at home and hop on to city buses, to understand the importance of the public transport system in reducing traffic and environmental issues. It is definitely a call to persuade ‘well off’ people to use the bus.
Benefits of using the public transport system are aplenty. First, it saves money. Second, a person arrives at his/her office relaxed and ready to work, free from the stress of driving a car at peak traffic hours. It also reduces the need for on-site employee parking. Finally, it helps reduce traffic and pollution in the city.
For more details, contact Vivek Mathai at 9496326956 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Support Bus Day: Take our Survey!
Monday, May 23, 2011
it has been a sunny Sunday afternoon. Petrol price has been hiked up. Feel sorry about the politicians still play a major role in deciding the schedule of petroleum price hike. In Kerala, another hartal is over. Not sure how many crores we lost because of that hartal. no one seemed to have taken a stock of the events on that day, it seems ! i was driving towards city side from Tripunithura region. at Vyttila, i was caught in surprise by the number of cars taking right turn. My fellow passenger in the car told me that every body is rushing to Oberon mall to enjoy their sunday evening.
it struck me about the poor transport arrangement the city has. there are not many buses servicing the bye pass road. going to Oberon mall on any holiday tells you that the parking lots are packed and private vehicles are parked in front of the mall on the sides of the national highway. i do think that it is because of the lack of public transport facilities to that side, every one is compelled to take their private vehicles to go to Oberon mall. like hartal, no one bothers about how many liters of petrol is burnt because of lack of sustainable public transport facilities to Edappally side via bypass road. this is a good case study, similar destinations are plenty in city and we complain about traffic congestion without solving the basic issues.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Always surprised by the duties and responsibilities of civil servants in India. many times, their roles are not defined and some times they walk on a very thin yet blurred line of execution. here, my focus is on traffic policemen. any city in India, you can see them on streets and at junctions but they differ in uniforms and style from state to state. Yet their roles and responsibilities do not vary much. i am told that at many places, traffic police man post is given to the newly recruited chaps to the force just after their training. let them survive in the scorching heat of summer ! but i am yet to see a traffic police man on the street on a snowy day in Simla or Sri Nagar. but in Kerala, they wear a rain coat or hold an umbrella to survive during monsoon times. anyways, Kudos to traffic policemen for their tiring work and dedication !!
here the policy angle i want to discuss is about their duties and responsibilities. i have always come across SIs and CIs of traffic police in meetings related to urban mobility irrespective of the cities and states in India. the first invitee to such meetings are always the representatives of traffic police. though there is a direct involvement of traffic police in these decision making processes, i always wondered what kind of role they should have in these meetings and exercises. what is the role defined for traffic police; a facilitator or enforcement agency or the decision maker? most of the times, i found them sitting in the chair of both decision maker and enforcement agent and facilitator thus confusing a stake holder like me. what is the expertise and training given to the traffic police? how much are they updated on the happenings around the world in the field of transport and mobility? if traffic police man can do everything, then what is the significance of a transport engineer and mobility researchers? i strongly believe that the police department as well as the administrative session of traffic and mobility should understand the roles of every stake holder while discussing the new mobility plans for a city. most of the developed cities having better mobility plans separated the roles of traffic police and administrators and engineers and policy makers in addition to the role played by public at large. unless these changes are brought into the system in india, our future plans for urban mobility might look bleak.
Friday, April 29, 2011
there has been a marathon debate on Cochin metro. it is on limbo for the last seven years; reasonable time for completion of construction of metro rail in any city. still we are debating and discussing. From each one's point of view, there is fair concession to be given on the nicety of the arguments; each one is relevant and significant in their knowledge domain.
I am not arguing here for the merits and demerits of the funding side of metro in a city like Cochin.i am happy to be a citizen of a city having metro. now, the reports say that DMRC starts its construction activities by demolishing and rebuilding North over bridge. I was wondering we had to wait for a metro to come before we realign north over bridge. is it a development trap like poverty trap for the socialist economy? how many years we have taken to arrive at such a decision and citing metro now is a feasible option for the eye wash.
there is aghast among the general public regarding the time that metro corporation will take to reconstruct the works for north over bridge. what are the reasons for such a hysteria? is it because we don't believe DMRC team? given the track record they have in New Delhi in construction activities, i wonder what is it all about? if they can manage the construction activities in busy junctions by which many VVIPs drive through and busy markets like Karol Baghs and Chandini Chowks, why cant be rest assured in Cochin? whom should we blame for our own pinch for the delays and lockouts?
it is reported that there will be some traffic rearrangement in Cochin city while the construction works are going on. before scaling up the construction works, why cant the authorities make sure that access to Pullepady bridge is improved and smoothened? they can also assure the right turn from Kaloor to Elamakarra can lead to Edapally as the same case with the better connectivity between High court Junction and Kalamassery.
i am not sure when the actual construction work will start for Metro. lets hope the new government will take the steps to ensure the the project is on. i wonder why Seematti opposed railway station there in front of their shop. i think both DMRC and the stake holders must understand that stations can be designed in such a way that the value capture is enough for a party like Seematti to welcome to you to their door steps. instead of thinking aloud for their parking problems, Ms Beena Kannan shall invest in metro in a proper way. she can save time and energy and more importantly the money that she will invest for buying the land to expand the parking facilities. why cant these shop owners are taken into confidence and initiates a process where development rights are indexed with captured value of the business and metro to a variable coefficient? let them fund the metro and who knows the public can take metro at a lesser price and thus provide a solution for sustainable urban transport. Look at the models at Hongkong and other places. DMRC should make sure that these ideas give better opportunities to the opponents to be a part of the larger project. lets CBD enjoy and fund themselves from the project.
going to back to the theory of delays, i must confess that i am also pessimistic. if these roads are not relaid to the original position in a meaningful time frame, it will kill the economy. at the same time, i am worried about the plans of metro corporation; what about the first and last mile problems? are we designing the stations in such a way that the buses, autos and private vehicles can come and pick the passengers and drop at. will there be good light at these stations so that we especially the women dont have to be scared to board the trains. these are the questions need to be discussed while the project is sanctioned.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Today, i had another couple visiting our office from Chennai. They had taken low floor bus to reach our office at Elamkulam. they were telling me that when they told Elamkulam bus stop to Bus conductor,he responded like he does not know the place.the couple, senior citizens felt bad about the incident. they were asking me why it so happened. then i remember the news that i read yesterday. Like the Husband in yesterday's news, the bus conductor may belong to some places in Kerala. I appreaciate the mobility factor of Malayalees but i was surprised that the service provider (here in this case, KSRTC), never bothered to know about conductor's knowledge about the where abouts of Cochin city. they should give proper training to the employees that will help to the passengers (buyers of the service in this case) better.
these matters are small and silly when we compare the advancement in sustainable urban transport sstem. Either KSRTC can train its employees or put up an annoucement system or GPS so that passengers can know in advance where they are heading. so the soultion lies; absolutely zero cost to a few lakhs'. Lets decide what we need on a priority basis.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The lad came back to me,
Asking for a moment to play.
I refused: “Am not of your age,
Please find out someone else.”
He went back weeping.
He is my brother, young boy.
He insisted me to play the game;
Mad as the heart of the fans,
Hard to bring the reality into it,
The game enthused many.
It is called cricket: the blood and marrow
Of this country called India.
When I heard the word religion
The game already had a God.
When I heard the word heaven
The stadium got the name: Eden.
When I dreamt archangels,
The game was lauded by masters and legends.
But, we changed everything.
Gentleman’s game got dried.
Speed and innovation changed the classic face;
Still, the game is played in a spirit.
The lad was unaware of all these,
Went on playing, with a self-commentary.
I found it very solacing.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Agenda for City Corporation
1. Rearrange the city traffic and bus routes with the support of Traffic police and RTO.
a. Studies indicate that bus routes cater only 30 % of the urban agglomeration of Cochin. There are many places in agglomeration that need Kms of walk to reach the nearby bus stops.
b. Rationalization of bus routes in city needs priority. Many routes in city are either redundant or obsolete. Many of the routes are relevant when most of the existing roads (new connectivity) were not even visualized decades before. Now, with the changing scenario, routes need to be revisited for public transport so that burden on the Central Business District (CBD) can be reduced.
2. Rearrange the city bus stops
a. Most of the bus stops are either misplaced or irreverent. Bus stops especially at the mouth of an over bridge and at the junctions cause traffic blocks and congestions. This needs to be reevaluated and inspected on a priority basis.
b. There are many bus stops that are unlawful. Buses stop intermittently blocking the lane traffic is another reason for traffic blocks in city
3. Synchronise the signals at junctions.
a. Signal systems need to be updated on a frequent basis. This shall be done on the basis of traffic surveys carried out at the junctions on a regular basis.
b. A traffic management system with expertise in traffic experts and not the traffic police.
4. Effective dispute redressal system placed in corporation.
a. Those who come to the corporation office for different needs get a professional treatment. Dispute resolution system to sort out the issues within a reasonable time will be praiseworthy.
b. Mayor shall initiate regional face to face meetings (like Lok Adalats) on a frequent basis. There shall be a forum where Mayor reaches out to the general public.
5. Move to declare the city as pedestrian friendly city. (pedestrian audit)
a. Unfortunately, movement of private and heavy vechicels are given priority in the CBD region. Planning shall commence from the pedestrian point of view. Most of the city regions do not adhere to Indian Road Congress mandate on the pedestrian facilities to be provided on the street.
b. Involve civil society organizations and resident associations to conduct pedestrian audit on a regular basis.
6. Thrust on urban mobility and free flow of traffic
a. Focus shall be the mobility. Seamless traffic flow is possible with the rearrangement of bus routes, bus stops, rationalization of bus routes and dedicated bus routes. Sustainable public transport meeting the demands of the commuting population shall be the key area for development and discussion.
b. Bus rapid Transit System can be introduced at a fractional cost of Metro. This will help to ease out the present system till the metro comes to city.
7. Cycling tracks in the city
a. Cycling tracks along with pedestrian sidewalks are the global benchmarks for any livable city. Cycles which form the non- motorized mobility plans are very much significant in the overall improvement of urban area.
8. Rating and quality assessment of roads constructed and repaired by an external committee representing the civil society.
9. Tracking of bus positions using GPS. This will be displayed on display boards placed at bus stops for passengers' convenience.
10. Display of time schedule of public transport at bus stops and numbering of bus routes.
11. Public comfort stations
12. Create activity zones and neighborhood play zones and green space leisure activities in the city by raising FAR.
a. City is witnessing horizontal growth for many decades. Debates on vertical growth ensuring urban amenities shall be initiated. This would ensure a livable city concept having play grounds, street furniture and green space in the neighborhood areas.
13. Fees, payment of bills, issuing of certificates (application included) and tax remission through corporation websites.
a. Try to maximize the use of IT platforms for the needs of the citizens while dealing with corporation. They don’t have to come to corporation offices for paying fees/tax, to get certificates etc. this shall be done online.
14. Identify parking space at the major transit points and develop multi layer parking systems.
15. Provide better feeder systems at all the major transit points including railway stations, bus stands, Boat jetties so that there is no intermittent delays.
a. first and last mile problems are not solved in India. It adds to the issue of more private vehicles on the road. Better feeder system supporting the public transport will make sure that demands of the general public is addressed.
b. Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) shall be notified soon. This will help all the stake holders including railways, Metro, KSRTC, PBOA, Auto Unions, Taxi etc sit around a table and come up with sustainable solutions. This would increase their revenue as well.
16. Increase the inland water navigation systems. City commuters shall be given the option of taking boats.
a. Cochin has a very vast water frontage area which is suitable for inland navigation. Most of the port cities have developed in land navigation as the main stay of the urban mobility unlike cochin. Provide boat services and leisure activities that would reduce the traffic on the main roads. Moreover, it is cheap also.
17. Convert MG Road and Marine Drive into walking plaza and entertainment zones.
a. Downtown concept is absent in the city. Once parking facilities are given, some of the streets can be denied of private vehicle entry. Streets shall be the spaces where evening walks and leisure activities can be carried out. Outdoor dining, music, painting etc can be promoted at these places to make it a truly loveable city.
18. Revive/reclaim canals in Cochin city.
Studies need to be carried out to revive canals like Perandoor, mullassery etc. efforts shall be focused towards to revive/reclaim these canals so that water related issues can be settled for ever.
19.Storm water drainage
20. Garbage disposal stations and the effective mechanisms to handle the waste treatment. Dust Bins shall be provided at every place.
21. Information kiosks about the city information at major transit points.
22. City should have direction board in regional language and in English.
23. There can be complaining registration center to register complains on buses, auto rickshaws and taxies.
24. Exclusive market for street hawkers (Exclusive area for street hawkers) needs to be implemented. GIS study needs to be carried out to identify the appropriate areas for setting up these markets.
25. Formation of an urban task force
An ideal complete streets policy:
• Includes a vision for how and why the community wants to complete its streets
• Specifies that ‘all users’ includes pedestrians, bicyclists and transit passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as trucks, buses and automobiles.
• Encourages street connectivity and aims to create a comprehensive, integrated, connected network for all modes.
• Is adoptable by all agencies to cover all roads.
• Applies to both new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance, and operations, for the entire right of way.
• Makes any exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure that requires high-level approval of exceptions.
• Directs the use of the latest and best design criteria and guidelines while recognizing the need for flexibility in balancing user needs.
• Directs that complete streets solutions will complement the context of the community.
• Establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes.
• Includes specific next steps for implementation of the policy