Friday, April 29, 2011

Random thoughts on Metro railway project Cochin

by D Dhanuraj

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

City bus trips - small steps can improve the service

Other day Malayalam Manorama reported that a working couple; husband and wife are posted in a low floor bus. the writer argued that it makes sense and adds social happiness around them. Reading the news, I was also excited about it. then, i realised that the husban is from Waynad and the wife belongs to suburbs of Cochin. I remarked; 'lucky couple'

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.