Sunday, July 31, 2011

Feeder system for metro stations in Kochi

By D.Dhanuraj

Every morning, Kochiates buzz about the dream project of them; Kochi metro. it has been a dream for more than five years and with the present government, every one thinks that the dream is getting converted to reality. The other day, the metro website was launched. I am not sure whether it was my mistake that i could not find the copy of the feasibility study report of Kochi metro on that site. anyways, i am more concerned about the ridership and accessibility points for the metro stations once it becomes operational.

Kochi is a city of 7 lakhs and its suburbs can add another 10 lakhs to the population. the floating population of the city would be around 3 to 4 lakhs if we go by the calculation by the city bus services today. To my knowledge, no one has got any realistic numbers about the city commuters. all are guess works. the proposed metro is from Alwaye to Petta. it is interesting to note that the CBD area of cochin is shifting eastwards and we are not sure about the prospects of M G road in another one decade as the city grows. the alignment is along M G Road and i am still looking for the study reports and ridership presently and the forecast to justify the metro projects. unfortunately, the old city of Cochin like Mattancherty, Fort Cochin etc are not bound by the metro plans. in fact, they are least served by the bus services also. not sure how are they connected to metro stations in the proposed alignment. have they planned feeder systems or BRTs? why cant they plan share autos and other para transit feeder systems?

lastly, I am not convinced about the plans for city aligned route which may become redundant in the days to come. i would rather argue that the city should have gone for a BRT and the suburbs should have connected by Metro. the city is expanding and my hypothesis is that this city of Cochin will have a very different geographical positioning in the next 25 years. the proposed metro should have connected Kakkanad, Angamaly, Tripunithura, Vypeen and Fort Kochi. it could have been done in phases and BRTs should have been operated within the present city limits. a random check shows that many offices from the proposed alignment are getting shifted and moving out of the growing region of the city.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Toll collection at Aroor

Any construction work related to national highways is looked with lot of suspicion these days. the main reason is that of BOT mechanism adopted by national highway authority (NHAI). many complain that the toll fee levied at Aroor is exorbitant in a state like Kerala. NHAI and Central Government counters it saying that these numbers are accepted elsewhere hence why not in Kerala. they cite the examples of other states and then add that Kerala is richer than many other states in that respect to give this toll fee. I accept the argument that Kerala society has some how cultivated the habit of getting everything free be it water supply or electricity. at the same time, I disagree with NHAI argument on the pricing front. I am not sure how did they arrive at the same figures as such they apply in other states. NHAI publications report that PCUs per day on Aroor-Edapplly stretch is about 50000. this shows that this is a high dense corridor. they are expecting the numbers to grow to 70000 by 2015. vehicle ownership in Kerala is 1:6 and in Kochi it is 1:4. this is very much different from national averages. So BOT model should look for volume business since high number of vehicles are passing through this corridor. the rates shall be revised according to the number of vehicles that use this corridor. this is a classic example what happens when the decisions are taken in Delhi and not at the local level studying the demand and supply. Central Government should not decide on the local pricing though National Highway Authority is involved in the process. the decision should be left to the local government.

there is one more argument to substantiate the above reasoning. Kerala is different in the car sales pattern as many own premium cars and vehicles. those who own premium vehicles shall be taxed in these scenarios though the argument on equity front may differ. but i would conclude that it is the market driven mechanism to support and sustain the public transport.