Friday, September 16, 2011

Do we need Metro rail?

By D Dhanuraj

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...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The question is not how many people are coming to MG road and broadway everyday but why they come? (because, i believe, a large number of vehicles come to city each n every day). The market in broadway has to be shifted, so as many government offices in the city! and the long route buses are to be diverted! and fly overs should be constructed at vyttila and to the bus terminal (which creates only chaos now)! can we do all these things? if yes, metro not an essential thing. otherwise, let it be happen,,am also agree that cochin is small city for metro and population is scattered especially to the suburbs like cherthala, poothotta, kakkanad, thiruvankulam and west kochi. it would have been nice if railway can rearrange their existing service- the wellington island to west kochi, the tripunithura and ofcourse the vyttial marshal yard station . this would have solve half of the problem,, but still , re schedule the market and offices in city is also important . Also the water way improvement...