KOCHI: The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) plans to introduce 650 new buses in the Greater Cochin area, including electric buses and buses fuelled by compressed natural gas (CNG), as part of the efforts to make the city pollution-free. In a counter affidavit filed before the Kerala High Court, the KSRTC submitted that there was a strategic plan to introduce low-carbon city buses in Greater Cochin. “The initiative is aimed at ensuring lesser mile-connectivity for the Kochi Metro Rail project and also to rejuvenate the mass transportation facility in the project are,” it said.
Battery-powered buses are absolutely emission-free, while CNG buses cause minimum pollution. The new buses include the standard type and mini type with seating capacity of 42 and 27, respectively. The standard buses will be operated as the main connection service between various Metro Rail stations and satellite towns such as Aluva, Cherthala, Vaikom, Pala, Muvattupuzha, Thodupuzha, Mundakkayam, Piravom, Angamaly, Chalakkudy, Thrissur, North Paravur and Kodungallur.
The mini buses will be operated to almost all nook and cranny of the city, ensuring the least mile-connectivity. “This will discourage commuters from using personal modes of transport like car and two-wheeler,” said Ernakulam Zonal Office works manager P V Sanjeev. According to the KSRTC, the majority of the city services in Kochi are concentrated on NH-47, between Aluva and Ernakulam and between Ernakulam and Tripunithura. The Metro Rail will have a direct impact on the existing city bus services operated by the KSRTC, hence route-rationalisation of the existing services was proposed. As many as 43 feeder routes have been identified within the catchment area of the proposed Metro stations. The routes have been identified in the 2.5-km buffer on either side of the stations. The KSRTC also initiated discussions with Indian Oil Corporation for setting up CNG dispensing stations in the vicinity of the KSRTC/KURTC depots in Grater Cochin area. The proposal is expected take at least one year to materialise. KSRTC made the submission in response to an appeal filed the Lawyers Environmental Awareness Forum, challenging the order of a Single Judge staying the directive of the National Green Tribunal not to register diesel vehicles of 2,000 cc and above. The KSRTC said the Motor Vehicles Act-1988 was not included in Schedule-I of the Green Tribunal Act-2010. Hence, the Tribunal is having no jurisdiction to consider the issue. It said all the vehicles of the Corporation had received fitness certificate under Section-56 of the Motor Vehicles Act.