Friday, July 13, 2012

In harmony with Auto rickshaws in Cochin

by D.Dhanuraj

For the last one fortnight, most of the media in Cochin discusses the plight of the commuters traveling by Auto rickshaws and the police actions to discipline the auto rickshaw drivers in Cochin. While the columns after columns are dedicated to the police actions and remedial measures suggested, I wonder how much we heard from the auto rickshaw drivers and their livelihood demands. Many times, I wondered why are we treating auto rickshaw drivers as inhuman, cruel and criminals? Aren't they also belong to the same society that I and you belong to. then why are we discriminating them to cast criminal aspersions on them every time? Cant we cite criminals in all the domains of work but can we generalize that all those into a profession are criminals?

It has been reported that authorities are planning to revisit the permits issued and rearrangement (relocation) of the auto rickshaw stands in the city. I wish these decisions are taken after discussing it with all the stake holders involved. Do we have a mapping system which indicates the locations are areas where autos are more in demand. What is the total commuting population traveling by auto in Cochin? why are they using autos in these areas and locations? what are the issues faced by auto rickshaw drivers/ owners from the day one 'looking for buying a new auto?' How are these autos help public transport system in Cochin? Aren't they a part  of public transport in Cochin? How did we integrate this system into the public transport mechanism in Cochin? if auto rickshaw drivers are not happy with the fare stages, what are the reasons? who are responsible from the Government side to oversee the smooth functioning of the auto rickshaw system in Cochin? how do they facilitate to ensure the improvement in the efficiency of the system?

Do you think Metro rail will solve all the transportation issues in Cochin? Can they solve the last mile connectivity that I and you face every day? In fact, Autos are going to be the ventilators for the metro rail in Cochin. If you want to push Metro rail into ICU now itself, you don't need to answer the above questions...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Metro Kochi

by Dhanuraj.D

The approval for Kochi metro has been soothing for many in Government and for political party leaders. It has been a prestigious project for many in terms of its visibility and size especially in a state which is notorious for mega projects and implementation. But I did not see the kind of enthusiasm from the Kochiates as one may expect though I dont compare it with something similar to a city is awarded with Olympics. Many say that it is a public project and is going to be a revolution in Kerala's future. That triggers me to ask the questions like; what is public and what is the revolution we are expecting out of it?

Today's news papers announce that Airport metro express in Delhi is stopping their operations from tomorrow onwards. Though the secretary to Urban Ministry is expected to brief in a press conference today, the reasons are obvious; lack of passengers and profit in the route. Unlike the other metro operations in Delhi, this is being operated by Reliance. It has faced problems from the construction stages onwards. When the operations were inaugurated, Government forced to subsidize the operations as it was not able to meet the expenses. Even then, it has been facing the problems and there seem to be unfriendly relationship between Reliance infra and DMRC.  Whatever be the reasons, the officials might cite for the halting of services, my simple calculations do not match with the expenditure incur in everyday's operations.

Another issue with this system is that everyone traveling to airport needs to come to Cannught Place to check in the metro. This has been a larger issue with metro rail system as it is large and permanent structure with respect to the mobility of the passengers. Once constructed, these heavy structures are permanent and cannot be easily moved or changed. It is also important to have feeder systems to these stations. I am living in Safderjung Enclave and it takes me 20 minutes to reach IGIA. It will cost me Rs 125 for an auto drive and costs Rs 200 for Taxi. Why should I go to New Delhi metro station to catch metro express to Airport? I am not sure how many of air passengers go to CP for their food and accommodation?  then what is the optimum use of metro express in that line? One time, I took metro and then i realised that it goes to T3 and i had to run around to switch over the terminal.

I wish all the stake holders of Kochi metro studies the importance of line alignment and verifies the fact before they start construction. Delhi Metro express is a classic example of what can happen if the project is not rightly conceived. Delhi metro express line would have continued its operations if it was operated by DMRC. Here comes a private entity which is bothered about the investment and returns from such a line. Are we missing a Private entity to evaluate the Kochi metro? I am sure then I will get the answers for my Private and Revolution part that I had asked earlier......