Over the past decade, Kochi has witnessed stunning advancement in infrastructure and technology. Considering the number of mega projects that have come up in the past and those set to launch in the near future, it is safe to say that Kochi’s growth is heading skyward, both economically and socially.
However, in spite of world class projects such as the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal, the SmartCity project, Infopark and Medi City, Kochi was short of a major initiative on the urban transport front. Although various public transportation modes including buses, trains, autos and boats are available to the general public, the lack of an integrated transport system was a major hurdle for city dwellers and people living in the outskirts.
From this congestion, arose the idea of a convenient mass rapid transit system that is economical and sustainable. The dream of a futuristic world-class Kochi with an integrated transport network was thus born.
We named this dream ‘Kochi Metro’.
Here are a few features of Kochi Metro that set us apart from other Metros across the country!
1. Integrated Transportation Model
Five years ago, Kochi Metro Rail Limited was started with the objective of building and running a metro line but instead, we decided to use KMRL as an opportunity to migrate citizens from personal vehicles to public transport and change the face of transportation and mobility in the process. KMRL will be the first metro system in the country with an integrated multimodel transport system, featuring both city and feeder buses/taxis, boats, non motorised transport and of course the metro itself. Kochi Metro Rail Limited is on the move to introduce feeder-bus/taxi/autorikshaw, preferably electric or CNG to operate an environmental friendly transport system for the city.
2. Water Metro
KMRL is all set to implement the integrated water transport project with the cost of 747 crore with the financial assistance of German Bank, KfW. This significant milestone is the first city in the country wherein water transport has been integrated as a feeder service to the metro as well as the first time in India that such a significant level of investment is being brought in for improving water transport.
The project envisages the development of 16 identified routes, connecting 10 islands along a network of routes that span 76km. The project intends for a fleet of 78 fast, fuel efficient, air-conditioned ferries playing to 38 jetties, 18 of which will be developed as main boat hubs, while the remaining 20 will be minor jetties for transit services. More than 100,000 islanders are expected to benefit from the water metro, complete with modern watercrafts.
3. Non Motorised Transport (NMT)
KMRL has prepared an NMT Master plan for Kochi, comprising the identification of priority NMT corridors in a 2km buffer area on either side of the metro corridor. The objective of this initiative is to provide safe, accessible and comfortable footpaths, improved conditions for cycling, bicycle parking facilities and urban renewal through place making. This will also work as last mile connectivity from almost all the stations.
Taking a step in this direction, a 350-meter-long walkway-cum-cycle track was built by Kochi Metro Rail Limited on Shihab Thangal Road, Panampilly Nagar as a pilot programme.
4. One Ticket. Many Journeys.
The system that KMRL has planned for Kochi Metro is one that involves a single card, single timetable and a singular command and control. A first-of-its-kind agreement was signed with Axis Bank for implementing an Automatic Fare collection System (AFC) with a debit card which can also be used for other purposes than transit. This co-branded debit card will allow passengers to access all modes of public transportation as well as be utilized for mercantile and internet transactions. The card can be linked with any bank account of the user, in any bank. KMRL is also planning a `click and collect’ system whereby the commuter on the Metro system will be able to order goods and services using this Debit Card which can be delivered at our Metro stations.
5. Social inclusions
A unique aspect of metro stations will be the deployment of members of Kudumbasree – the female empowerment-oriented, community-based, poverty reduction self-help group project of the Government of Kerala – for managing station operations. Kudumbasree will provide a vast array of services from customer relations, crowd management, housekeeping and catering services which once operational will be the largest crew of women to be employed by any metro. KMRL intends to include the LGBT community in its operations along with Kudumbashree, thus becoming the first organization to appoint transgenders as per the transgender policy of the Kerala government!
PPP on Automatic Fare collection:
The Automated Fare Collection (AFC) system is a critical core component of any Metro system. The entire maintenance of the AFC system will be undertaken by Axis Bank for 10 years. Axis will pay KMRL a royalty of Rs.209 crore over the next 10 years for the right to be a partner in this endeavour. In addition to this, 20% of Axis Bank’s gross revenues, from the utilization of this debit card outside KMRL’s ecosystem in various mercantile outlets and internet transactions, will also accrue to KMRL over the next 10 years. This is the first time such an innovate model is being launched anywhere in the world and is expected to change funding models for AFC systems in the metro industry globally.
Kochi One Mobile App: Kochi Metro Rail limited is planning to introduce a unique mobile application which will help connect the commuters to all modes of transportation with ease. The app will help plan a seamless journey connecting all integrated transports systems though the touch of a mobile as well as inform users of various activities, help identify various locales, and even identify stores that in the vicinity of the metro corridor.
Themed Stations: Kerala has a rich and amusing history of art, culture and literature thanks to its tryst with various foreign colonisers and traders. So when we undertook the state’s most prestigious infrastructure project till date, we felt it was necessary to feature that history, art and the cultural into the premises of the metro for the people of Kerala to be proud of and for the people visit Kerala to be aware of. It was therefore decided to have 6 major stations with unique themes and a continuous Kerala theme across the remaining metro system in all 22 stations. The attempt is to give the commuters a multisensory experience including visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile experiences, by even including real flowering plants celebrating the flora of the Western Ghats.
Green initiatives: KMRL believes in a Kochi that is not just futuristic but also environment friendly. To achieve this, the following methods have already been adopted:
– The Green Kochi drive with a detailed tree planting plan across the city
– ‘Adopt a Tree’ scheme
– Large scale sponsorship as well as CSR funding of tree-guards