In yet another milestone in the road to creating a seamless integrated transportation system in the city, Kerala Urban Road Transport Corporation (KURTC) has joined hands with German bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) to introduce 786 pollution-free buses that will run on electricity and compressed natural gas (CNG). KURTC is all set to operate feeder services for the Kochi Metro as well as city bus services to and from all nearby satellite towns, including locations as far as Alappuzha, Pala, Munnar, Guruvayur, Chalakudy and Thodupuzha.
A total of 44 feeder routes connecting Metro stations and city routes have been identified. The Urban Mass Transport Company (UMTC), entrusted with the preparation of the Transit-Oriented Development Plan (TOD) along the proposed Metro corridors in the city, has submitted a report to the Kochi Metro Rail Ltd on the ‘new and viable’ routes where the buses can be redeployed or operated as feeder buses to Metro services.
A deal for the same was signed on September 22 between KURTC Managing Director Antony Chacko and Juliana Scholtez, project manager of German government-owned development bank, KfW, in the presence of state Transport Minister A K Saseendran. It would allow the KURTC to receive a 560 crore loan from the bank. A majority of the buses would ply in Greater Kochi area. Their introduction will reduce pollution and make the city pollution-free. Of the total cost of Rs.560 crore, Rs.486 crore has been set aside for the procurement of buses while the remaining amount will be used for the construction and creation of additional infrastructure like building bus depots and creating CNG fuelling pumps and other such facilities. KfW will lend 80% of the total amount to KURTC.
The project calls for the procurement of a modernized fleet of 786 buses of which 137 will be air conditioned and the remaining 549 would be non-AC. 175 buses will be used for the Metro feeder services while 611 buses will be used for city routes. Once the Kochi Metro, Water Metro and Road Transport form an integrated transport system, the government plans to introduce a ‘single-ticket’ system, which would enable people to use any of the three modes of transport with a single ticket.
The decision on extending financial assistance to for the Kochi metro feeder projects was taken at the end of a two-day visit by a three-member German delegation, during the course of which they assessed the viability of the projects.
Meanwhile, KURTC aims at rolling out the first lot of feeder buses when the Kochi Metro operations begin by next March.