Kochi Metro Rail Ltd envisages a city that commutes by public transport and is suited for the metropolitan lifestyle, contributing much to the society and nature. Closely following this vision is Kochi Metro, which will soon be the backbone of Kochi’s public transportation network. With channels running far and deep into the outskirts of the city, the metro will not only improve the physical accessibility between places, but will also have a significant impact on the lifestyle of people.
Every six years in Kochi, vehicles on road are doubling. Experts suggest that in another 12-18 years Kochi will turn in to another Bangalore, in terms of congestion and the time spent on road, and it will take more than an hour to cover a kilometre. We have limitations in expanding roads; over bridges are only adding on to the existing trouble and environmental issues. It’s high time we realise that the distance between an asthmatic Delhi and a wheezing Kochi isn’t far.
The one and only solution to this predictable crisis is to strengthen public transportation. If you’ve been to Singapore, you might have noticed how vital public transportation is in the lives of its citizens. Getting a car registered and finding parking lots are far more strenuous than buying a car, and so people use their private vehicles on limited occasions, such as for weekend trips and weddings. They very well understand the relevance of a sustainable system, for nurturing a clean and healthy environment and ensuring the safety of the next generation.
Initially, Kochi Metro project was conceived with the idea of building and operating a metro system. Gradually, with an innovative team on board and realising that a metro train system alone wouldn’t solve the conveyance issues of a fast-evolving metropolitan city, the project brought together the concept of a seamless Integrated Public Transportation Network. When buses, auto rickshaws, boats and the brand new metro come together under one platform, without doubt, one can say that this will be a game-changing move in the history of transportation in India.
A system with auto rickshaw unions forming Auto Rickshaw Coordinating Committees, private buses operators uniting to create seven companies and the most innovative Water Metro project in the pipeline, stands as the pillars for tomorrow’s public transportation.
The project, from the very beginning, was conceived to ease the life of commuters in Kochi. In a democratic political system, it is crucial to sustain public transportation in the society beyond the considerations of profit and loss. It is more of a social responsibility than a business. There are just four metros that makes profit; Hong Kong and Singapore are among the profit-making four. Yet, public transportation with higher carrying capacity, including Metro networks, are on the rise worldwide; the driving insights being to reduce traffic congestion and to bring down pollution.
Today, Delhi Metro receives a daily footfall of over thirty lakhs. There were days, fifteen years ago, when the same coaches used to run bare. It was running on loss and the company had to resort to sources such as IT parks for revenue requirements. The same was the case with Bengaluru Metro, which now has a footfall of over four lakhs.
Kochi Metro has been running successfully for the past six months, since its launch. It is not magic. We observe steady increase in ridership and income. What we expect now from the society is a shift in the mind-set to accept the metro system, to perceive its benefits, and to see the network as something beyond a mere transport aid and to welcome the warm change. We do understand that it will take time. The scenario wasn’t different 50-60 years back in Europe or 20 years ago in the Middle East. Let’s work towards a metro that reaches far into the outskirts of the city, closer to the villages, ensuring last mile connectivity with a single ticket on a specified timetable; we hope to make the Kochi Metro Integrated Transportation model a reality and the lifeline of people.