Monday, May 6, 2013

Mobility Hub and the second phase

by D. Dhanuraj

The second phase of the Mobility Hub construction will go for pre qualification tender in the coming days. It seems that dexterous planning has been gone into the designing of the second phase. As expected, the mobility hub is expected to be the meeting point of different modes of transportation. Metro station is planned inside the Hub infrastructure while city buses, Mofussil buses and long terms buses have dedicated bays in the mobility hub. Feeders like autos, taxis will have the provisions at the hub while the boat jetty is planned to connect other parts of the city. Like in an airport, private vehicles will be able to drop commuters at the bay.

Given the real estate value and the location of the mobility hub site, the estimated cost of 400 Crores for the construction of the second phase needs diligent planning and execution. As the media reports, one will wonder what is the productivity and outcome expected from such an investment? How would the State justify such an investment for such a mobility plan? Here the larger vision matters.

  1. The infrastructure should prioritize the mobility as the key feature. Everything shall be built around the  mobility aspect (of society) and not the other way round.
  2. With the second phase of Mobility Hub in running, this could become the CBD of new Cochin. The stake holders especially Mobility Hub society, city corporation and GCDA should sit around and discuss the future plans.
  3. The entire mobility of the region as well as that of immediate neighbourhood shall get aligned with the Mobility hub plans without disturbing the social mobility features of the ongoing crowd.
  4. Like in many other cities, the stake holders can plan regulation of the public transport in the region by setting up UMTA. Present private and KSRTC operations can be grouped into fleet services under the HUB management without retaining the ownership intact as it is now.
  5. Better utilisation of 25 acres of land is the key. Why can't mobility Hub attract medium level investments leading to transit orient development in the location?
  6. Prepare a regional master plan for New Cochin as HUB as the fulcrum for the developments for the future. 
  7. Integration of HUB with rest of the State as important as the integration with the city.
  8. Have modeling exercises to find out the cut off number of non-travellers to HUB premises. This will help to build the shopping area, multiplexes and jogging stretches. otherwise, they may crowd the mobility hub leaving little space for the priority users.
  9. Innovate on the parking fees and differential pricing for the different users like commuters for public transport, those who come for shopping etc. ideally, even though parking space is provided, number of vehicles parked in the HUB premises should be smaller number in the long term with the improvement in public transport systems in the city which is mandated by HUB operations.
  10. Maintain a R&D lab to map the social mobility of the users in the region. Accordingly, routing and efficacy of the mobility hub operations and the proposed New Cochin township can be augmented.
I am sure the authorities would have looked at these aspects before the phase plans are finalised. Given the location and valuation of the property, Mobility Hub society should be able to finance its operations themselves and should not run to Trivandrum for allocation of funds to sustain the operations. If that is the case, it has failed in its enterprise..

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