KOCHI: Though the routes for the Kudumbashree women bus service which will be launched by the Kochi Corporation are yet to be finalised, there is a strong demand from the civic administrators that the buses should be pressed into service along the major byroads of the city where the frequency of bus services is low. However, the decision to save Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) by the State Government resulting in the non-issuance of fresh permits is the major hindrance that the civic body will have to overcome if it wants to launch services through the roads having no bus connectivity.
“Take the case of Stadium Link Road. It is one of the major roads in the city through which the traffic can be diverted . At present, there are no bus service through this route. If we can commence a service through this route with the help of one of the Kudumbashree women buses, it will offer an easy connectivity to Thammanam-Pulleppady road. Moreover, the stretch between Palarivattom and Desabhimani Junction is already congested because of the Metro construction,” says Corporation Town Planning Committee chairman K J Sohan.
A total of three mini buses will be launched as part of the Kudumbashree bus services. The buses will be owned and operated exclusively by women, but entry to buses will be open to all irrespective of gender. The construction of the body of the buses is nearing completion. The Regional Transport Office (RTO) has already asked the Corporation to provide the list of routes finalised for the services. According to the Corporation authorities, they can select the routes only from the list already approved by the Regional Transport Authority as a Government decision restricting the issuance of fresh permits exists.
The routes now suggested by RTO for the commencement of services are - Paravoor-Kaloor, Koonammavu-Fort Kochi, Kochu Kadavanthra-Edayar Junction, Pookkattupady-Ernakulam, Tripunithura-Edayar (via Menaka), Panambilly Nagar-Chathanad (Menaka), Kakkanad-Edakochi, Kakkanad-Mattancherry, Kakkanad-Fort Kochi, High Court-Elamakkara-Aluva, Elamakkara-Ponekkara-High Court (via Vyttila Hub), Kochu Kadavanthra-Koonammavu, Kaloor-Cherai, Chittoor-Chottanikkara-Mulanthurthy and Vyttila-Chalikkavattam-Kakkanad.
“Only three buses are available. So, it will be a wise decision if we commence short trip services through byroads rather than going for long distance routes. If we select long distance routes, we will be able to conduct only two or three services a day. That is why we are demanding circular trips covering the byroads with no bus connectivity,” said a Corporation official.
The Urban Poverty Alleviation Department (UPAD) of Kochi Corporation is implementing the project. According to a top Corporation official, initially, there will be male staff in buses to assist women employees. Later, the service will be exclusively owned and operated by women. The cost for a bus is around Rs 17 lakh.